The one word that creates so much anxiety for so many of our students.
Although testing has been around for, well…a LONG time, we still haven’t come across the best ways to eliminate this test anxiety in our students. However, with preparation, we may be able to ease this anxiety to some extent. The more that our students are familiar with the PROCESS of testing, the less anxious they will be on test day!
So, how should we prepare our students for testing?
Three Ways to Prep Your Students for a Test
Step One: Students need to be familiar with the way test questions are phrased.
We like to simplify questions in the classroom. We are trained to phrase questions in a way that students will understand, but for some reason, tests do not take this same consideration. The questions sound complex and overwhelming for students, so the more students hear these types of questions, the more they will be able to break down specifically what the question is asking.
DO: Use one bellringer a week to ask a test-like question and offer the opportunity to break down the question as a class. Try one of my “Paired-Passages” resources online which focuses on question breakdown and test prep.
Step Two: Teach your students to scan.
In a world full of information, we can’t read everything, can we? Rather, we scan an article or website searching for the exact information we need. Teaching our students to scan will help them answer test questions faster because they aren’t getting stuck reading every single word on the test.
DO: Discuss keywords with your students. Practice scanning texts for keywords related to simple questions and work your way up to more complex questions. The more practice they have at scanning, the better they will be when a test rolls around.
Step Three: Teach test-taking skills.
In my experience, teaching students a code system can be very helpful. It works like this.
More often than not, a student is not going to answer each question right off the bat during a test. A typical student might be able to answer number 1 right away, but be unsure of number 2, and have NO IDEA on number 3. So, how should the student handle this situation?
- Answer the questions they ABSOLUTELY know and put smiley faces next to them.
- Make the best guess on the answers they THINK they know and put stars next to them.
- Answer the questions they DON’T know AT ALL and put a question mark next to them.
The idea here is that students will be able to answer each question the first go-around (to make sure the test is done on time), but then, if there is time left over, they are able to go back through and answer questions with stars next to them. If they make it through all of the starred questions, they can finally go back through and re-read some of the questions coded with a question mark. This strategy ensures that students are answering the questions they are more likely to get right first.
DO: Teach a coding system to your students. This type of skill can be so helpful in so many areas of life, not just test-taking.
Cool! Now what?
With these three steps, your students will be more prepared to take a test on any given day. These steps will not ease all anxiety that comes with testing, but they could definitely help! Better yet, these three steps at most take around 10 minutes a week to teach. If you could try something for 10 minutes each with a high possibility that it will help your students come test day, wouldn’t you want to try it?
Just remember, providing support for test prep is only half the battle. The other half is teaching your students to BELIEVE that they CAN do well on tests! Check out this post about the student’s mindset. Enjoy!