Preparing for tests isn’t easy for students or teachers! That is why we have put together some useful tips that will help you to support your students as they prepare for their high-stakes tests.
1. Benchmark your students
Even before you start preparing students for their assessments, it’s very important to know what their strengths are, and where they have needs. A benchmark assessment can help you identify where students are individually, and comparatively against their peers. You can then use this information to help inform your teaching and the direction it needs to take.
2. Leverage your data
If you have data from your students, whether from previous exams or homework, use it! This data can be your best tool to differentiate teaching and help you prepare your students for their tests. Make use of formative assessment strategies too, to identify concepts and skills your students are struggling with and where individualized attention is needed. Online tools – like Edmentum Sensei – can be a great way to obtain actionable data.
3. Review and practice
Create a revision plan to review content. You may have to give a diagnostic quiz to identify where there is a lack of understanding. Once you determine where the challenge exists, review the material and possibly introduce other resources. Practice will not be constructive unless the students understand the content.
Simulated practice tests can ensure that your students are making the desired amount of progress before a high-stakes exam. All practice experiences should emulate the test in the style of questioning, as well as presentation. This will help them familiarize themselves with the format and become comfortable with it, so that there are no nasty surprises when the test arrives. If they will be taking the test online, then practice should be digital so that students develop the skills they will need for the exam.
Teach your students the importance of previewing a test section before starting to answer questions. It can help them pace themselves (so that they don’t run out of time and feel rushed), and it gives the brain the opportunity to start retrieving information in the background while answering other questions.
4. Prepare for next-generation assessments
Not only are next-generation assessments more rigorous, but they may be presented in a format that students are unfamiliar with. Gone are the days when pure content knowledge and a pencil were all that students would need to succeed on a test.
Below are a few things your students will need to have to be successful:
• Device familiarity
• Understanding of how to navigate the test
• Exposure to Technology-Enhanced Item types
• Basic keyboarding skills
Make sure that your students are given enough preparation and time with these items to give them the best chance of success.
5. Create a culture of positivity before the test
As Henry Ford is credited for saying, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.” Although some anxiety can be helpful, making students feel the urgency to prepare, it can quickly become a negative force and undermine all the positive preparation that has been done. So, try to keep the atmosphere relaxed and fun while still stressing the importance of the test.
Test taking is a skill, and knowing how to take a test correctly can improve scores dramatically. Follow these five steps, however, and you can be secure in the knowledge that you’ve prepared your students as best you can.