Test Prep 101: The Early Years

The typical 10 year old doesn’t like to take tests. When announcing a test, I could hear a collective groan from my students. It shouldn’t be that way! No need to get nervous about a test … if they are prepared for the test. Tests show us what someone already understands and what they still need to learn! Nothing scary about that! Tests are part of life!

The early grades are the perfect time to learn simple skills that will help them become confident test-takers. Parents and teachers can help little ones become test ready by focusing on attitude and developing good work habits at school. You can help younger students prepare for test-taking by laying the groundwork. Here tried and true “Teacher to Teacher Tips” on helping your students become test ready!

– Develop opportunities for your students to listen to directions. Students need to listen carefully to the directions before beginning the actual work. Have your students re-tell the directions in their own words to make sure they ‘got it’.
– Practice following directions. Give your students a number of tasks to do in order. Use key works such as before, after, when, next and during.
– Practice makes perfect. Give your students practice tests that mirror the standardized tests you will be giving. Teachable Moment: Project the test on a document reader and walk your students through each question and demonstrate how to answer it. This will teach them how to ‘think’ through each question – just like you!
– The prompt! Give your students plenty of opportunity to analyze images, illustrations, maps and primary source documents. On standardized tests these are called prompts. Really make them ‘look’ at the images. Don’t do a ‘drive by’ look; rather teach them how to slow down and carefully look at the details in the prompt. Most questions can be answered by looking at the details in the prompt.

These tips will help your students develop a ‘can do’ attitude when it comes to test taking! You are helping to lay the groundwork for their test-taking skills beyond elementary school!

An example assessment prompt

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