Monday, April 1, 2024

Test Preparation Tips to Help Students Succeed on Tests

This blog post offers some resources to help students do well on tests.  First, I'll explain what got me interested in this topic and then I'll list some free and paid materials.

Black title on pale yellow background at top, photo of pencil on standardized test answer sheet underneath
Get a set of test prep posters & flash cards HERE; graphic by The ESL Nexus

My Test Preparation Revelation

A few decades ago, I spent a summer studying French at a university in Quebec, Canada.  Before the program started, we had to take a language test to determine which level we'd be placed in for our classes. 
Although I had taken French for 6 years in junior and senior high school, and a semester in college, it'd been a long time since I'd actually used it.  So I spent the night before the test reading the French textbook I'd brought with me. 
To my great surprise, I placed into the 3rd highest level when I got my result; the 2 highest levels being for people who were teachers of French.  My review cramming had paid off!

Teaching Test Preparation Strategies

After I'd been teaching a while and saw that my students didn't have great study habits when preparing for tests, I did some research into test preparation strategies.  Then, when the standardized testing season began, I explicitly taught the strategies to them.
When I say "strategies," I don't mean how to read and understand a text, or how to figure out what a math problem is asking.  What I mean is how to mentally and physically prepare yourself to do well when taking a test.  As well as how to study effectively to learn the content that might be on the test.
Even if your standardized testing season has ended, I think you'll still find the info below useful because it's also applicable to classroom tests.  And if your standardized testing window hasn't yet begun, please check out the info as I think your students will benefit.

Websites with Test Preparation Tips

These 3 websites give info about taking tests.  I haven't explored all the links in all of them but what I did see looked very helpful.  The websites are aimed at older learners but I think the material is also appropriate for middle school students, too.  The first 2 websites offer suggestions for how to study and prepare for a test; the last website also offers tips for how to respond to various types of test questions.
* Test-Taking Techniques and Strategies, from Wichita State University
* How to Study for a Test: 17 Expert Tips, from Prep Scholar
* Best Test-Taking Strategies and Tips for Students, We Are Teachers

Printable TPT Test Prep Resource

I turned the material I discovered when researching test prep strategies into a resource for students.  It consists of posters and flash cards with the 10 tips I discussed with my students.  The posters make a nice bulletin board display and the flashcards can be photocopied and distributed to students to help them remember how to prepare well when they have upcoming tests.  You can grab it HERE.

Books about Test-Taking Strategies

The following 3 books are part of a series published by Thomson Heinle.  I used all of them with my students in Grades 4 - 8.  The strategies were clearly explained and there was lots of practice opportunities.  All the books are well-suited for use with Multilingual Learners of English as well as other students.  (The links for the books are affiliate links.  That means that I make a small commission if you purchase the books but it's at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!)
Strategies for Test-Taking Success: Reading
* Strategies for Test-Taking Success: Writing
* Strategies for Test-Taking Success: Math

Good luck with all your testing!