Tests can be a great challenge for many middle school students, especially in the 5th/6th grade transition year. Some of my students have never really ever taken a test until this year! So as a teacher, I feel it is important to ensure my students are prepared! I expect nothing but the best, so I give them the best test taking strategies! I have found that these skills are very helpful and many of my students thank me for teaching this to them.
Before The Test
Organize It! · Write It! · Say It!
I use a 3 day study plan to get my kids learning a system to prepare. Day 1 they organize all of their notes. I send home a check list with every document and worksheet they need to have both on the iPad and on paper. Based on this checklist, I give a notebook quiz (If we don’t grade them they won’t do it!)
Day 2, they get a review sheet with important hints to remember and I also throw in some practice questions, especially at the start of the year when they need to get used to how I test. (Application VS Memorization)
Day 3, Read, Recite and Review. They have to come to class with a recording of themselves they can listen to or some type of proof that they have reviewed. Remember they won’t do it if there is no grade! Some of my more attentive students write the answers to their review on flash cards to start and then use these flashcards before their test. Some kids have their parents sign that they helped the review. All acceptable!
I have found that they students who don’t take this seriously are generally the ones that do not perform as well as they can. This strategy helps them on their own identify things they do not understand and come see me or ask for help before it is too late!
During The Test
- Brain Dump – Write down things at the start of the test that are difficult to remember in margins or on back.
- Underline/Circle Key Words – Read instructions and questions actively! Underline and Circle Key words
- Cross-Out Wrong Answers – It sounds simple but they don’t do it. Eliminating wrong answers frees up working memory to focus more on finding the right answers.
- Find Your Challenge – Who says you have to go in order. Do more difficult sections 1st while your fresh and not fatigued from the test
- Review your work – WHY DON’T THEY DO THIS? I have to teach and re-teach my students that this does not mean check that you did every question , check that they are correct too!
After The Test
- Do not just focus on your GRADE! – Look for trends in “your” test data. Where did they do well? Where did they Struggle? Is multiple choice their weakness or their strength? Is there one concept that they recurring struggled with. Middle schoolers don’t know how to do this, you have to teach them this skill!
- Test corrections – I make every student fill out a test correction worksheet and keep them to compare where they continue to struggle on tests.
- Reflect on preparation – This is just as important at the end as it is in the beginning!