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Test Preparation

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A collection of strategies, advice and materials for preparing students for the high-stakes standardized tests. Some ideas may need to take place throughout the school year, while others address last-minute or week of testing.
Positive Thinking Test Prep Songs
Posted by:Risa #119115

I had been looking for some quotes that I could use to keep my students thinking positively as they prepare for our state assessments. As I looked through the quotes I also came across some 'affirmations' that triggered ideas for some quickie 'jingles'. Sooooo... I tinkered with some thoughts and came up with these songs that my school is using in our assemblies to get our students to start thinking positively about the upcoming tests.

This is an attachment created on Microsoft Word. There are three 'songs' that are written to the tunes of (1) Twinkle, Twinkle, (2) This Old Man, and (3) Itsy-Bitsy Spider

As always, I figure if it's something I had been looking for, others will find them useful, too! Hope so!;)

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Here are the tips that I used
Posted by:teacher #76560

Testing Help


Test Prep Books:
1)E-Z Test Readiness
2) Core Skills: Test Preparation (Steck-Vaugh)
3) Scoring High
4) Test Ready
5) Teach and Test Language

Websites Good for Testing:

Both are well worth the money.

Test prep materials are made into binders for each student. This makes it easier for me, if everything is in one place.

I also use these books for homework a month before testing. This gets the students use to the testing format.

Sample Test in Testing Format: I give my students practice test all throughout the year. I use the sample test items found on my state’s Dept. Of Ed. Site. I also use the sample items from the other states. (Some might argue that different states have different benchmarks. Well I simply edit (skip number 3) etc.. I...

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Root words & word parts
Posted by:FxyWhtCoco #119200

I found it easier to teach my students about root words while I was teaching about prefixes/suffixes. I taught 3 or 4 common prefixes. Put words on the board and broke them into the word parts and explained the meaning of the word and how it could be decoded since we now knew the meaning of the prefix/suffix. We practiced and practiced for several days about 15 minutes each day. They tell me whether it is a prefix or suffix, what the prefix/suffix means, what the meaning of the word is, what the root word is, and how to spell the root word. (Sounds time consuming, but it is actually very quick when they get the hang of it!) Then we palyed a game. I split the class into groups. I gave each student a list of common prefixes and suffixes. I then wrote words on the board that were on the...

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I have a suggestion
Posted by:JS #37837

This is a great question! I teach fourth grade in NYC where the ELA is our big test. If the students don't pass with a minimal score they are most likely retained in the grade if they can't pass the test again after taking summer school. Lots of pressure from the principal to teach strategies for the test. In fact she has even said that we are to focus on teaching these strategies.......sacrificing other curriculum.....until it's all over at the end of January. Let me tell you I HAVE LEARNED A LOT!!!!!!!
Feel free to email if you have any questions.

Now to your question....One of the things I teach my students is the "3 STEP STRATEGY" for reading passages and answering questions. This strategy works for all subjects and where students have to answer questions after reading a story or non-fiction. I got the...

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SAT9 testing
Posted by:Janet #11996

Our district allows us to look at the actual test from the year before. Find out if you are allowed to do this. We aren't allowed to copy anything or to use an actual test question that we remember but it gives you an idea of what is required and the way the questions are posed to the children so you can be sure they understand what is being asked of them. You can also get an idea of how many questions there are on the test of a particular nature, i.e. five questions on rounding but only one on fractions so I'll spend more time teaching rounding than I will fractions. (This is not true. Just an example.) We also use the test prep booklets but I agree with someone alse who said not to overdo or they will get bored with it. Hope this helps. Janet

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Pre-Testing Stress
Posted by:Fiddle4Fun #120637

Last night was the first really bad night I've had this season. I could not stop thinking about the things that I haven't even touched on this year, let alone done well. And I kept comparing this year with last year, already thinking about open house, the weedy school garden, end-of-the-year field trips, an upcoming IEP meeting, and... EVERYTHING. It's all coming to a head again...

And yes, the kids are more challenging than ever. Nice weather, spring break coming... I guess it's only natural to check out.

As far as students not being allowed to review what they've learned all year: isn't that just good teaching to do that? I don't get it. You teach, move on, and then come back and review what you've learned. It's silly to NOT do that.

I've heard that some schools hold weekend test prep sessions...

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Posted by:teachfla #111113

1. Ours took place Feb. 27- Mar. 10.
2. Talking about it from the first day of school. We sent home weekly short stories and questions similar to what kids would be seeing in order to prepare students and parents. We also did one 45-minute session in state-sanctioned FCAT-prep workbooks every week. Not too much, but just enough to let them become more comfortable with the skills they'd need (every year one kid invariably says around December "Hey, we're learning this in reading class" and everybody nods. Duh... but it takes that kid for everyone to really calm down about the whole thing.)
3. Nothing. My admin is really cool about the whole thing. Their smartest idea is every time we do practice tests, the 504 kids actually leave the room and go with their real proctor. It makes everyone more comfortable on the actual test day.

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Larry Bell's 12 Power Words-poster, cards
Posted by:Risa #118559

Someone posted that they had attended a presentation by speaker, Larry Bell, where he explained his '12 Power Words' which will help students be more successful on their tests if they know the meanings of the 'Power Words'.

I looked them up on the internet and made them into a larger size for posting and a smaller size for each student. The versions I made are in different fonts and colors but, since we don't all have the same fonts on our computers, I am posting versions that are in the same font (times) and in black and white.

I figure if it's something I can use, others might also be able to use them, too! ;)

The words are: Analyze, Evaluate, Describe, Infer, Support, Explain, Summarize, Compare, Contrast, Predict, Trace, and Formulate

(1) Larry Bell's 12 Power Words chart-(3 pages to cut and paste together to...

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Raising Test Scores
Posted by:Risa #128502

I agree wholeheartedly with the previous posts. I was amazed that my own students' test scores also went up last year, because that was the most difficult group I've had in all of my long teaching career!

During our one-on-one meeting with the principal to review test scores for my last group and set new goals for the current group, I was asked what I did to help them all increase their test scores. I told her that, despite the constant discipline interruptions, I focused on teaching with and having students use academic language as well as higher level questioning (Bloom's Taxonomy). This was especially the case when working on developing reading comprehension. I also made sure I was consistent with teaching general test taking strategies.

I work in a low socio-economic area where most students speak Spanish in the home, so I worked...

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No title
Posted by:1956BD #128507

For the reading test I teach my students to read the questions first. Then as they read the story they know what information they are looking for. If they see an answer I teach them to underline it. When they have finished reading the story then they have to read the questions again. I make them go back to the text to find the answer. They have to read all four responses and cross off those that they know are not correct and then select the best answer and mark it. Then, next to the question, I make them write the paragraph # where they found the answer. In our test the paragraphs are numbered, but students could learn to do that too. This information also has to be underlined in the paragraph. It is a great deal of work and takes time, but it works because of all the rereading and...

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Brain Juice
Posted by:BirdSong #120245

It sounds a little bizarre, but I stole this idea from a colleague of mine a few years ago. Each morning before testing, I give each students a small dixie cup of brain juice. We all recite a special "SMART PLEDGE" and drink all together. The pledge goes something like:

Today I will take a test
And I will not be afraid
I will certainly do my best
Because I am very smart today

The brain juice is a little Mellow Yellow (the caffeine stimulates the brain) and some green food coloring to make it look different. Kids try to guess what it is and some even suggest Mellow Yellow. Very quickly someone in class will announce that it cannot be Mellow Yellow because it is green. They beg me to tell them where I get it from, and I just say that I bought it...

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Test Taking Survival Kit
Posted by:KcK #120250

I do a test taking survival kit I dont have access to the file right now,,, but here is the gist:

1 Peppermint for every test.... to boost your brain power!
1 Eraser... to get rid of those brain freezes (what I call mistakes in my room)
2 Pencils... to record all the knowledge you have learned
1 stick of gum for each test... to remind you to stick with it!
1 highlighter... for highlighting of course!
1 Hershey's Hug.. for all your hard work!

I also put the word out to the staff and ask for volunteers to adopt my kids the week of testing. Each day every student gets a little note from their person encouraging them. Some years I have a different person write to each child each day and some years I have the same person do it, but it...

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A few thoughts
Posted by:Risa #119500

First of all, I teach my students about relaxing their tensed muscles. In order to insure that all muscles are relaxed, we tighten and then relax each group. They sit up at their tables, uncross their hands feet, put their hands on their laps or on the table/desk. We start from the feet (or toes), tightening up the muscles for a count of 5 (or 10) seconds and release. I think we go in the following order, but, of course, you can change it to focus on any muscle group: toes, feet, ankles, calves, thighs, buttocks, stomach, back, shoulders, arms, neck and the most fun, is scrunching our faces and then releasing. I've done this many times, personally, when I feel I can't relax or when I need to 'de-stress' from a full day at work.

Next, we practing deep breathing. I tell them that it's important to...

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One more thing-Visualization
Posted by:Risa #119503

I take my students on a 'guided visualization' where they first go through the breathing exercises to get into a calm mood. Then I ask them to close their eyes and continue being aware of their breathing. (I don't have a pre-made script since I change it as needed, but I guide them through with word similar to the following...)

"You and a couple of friends are at a movie theater. You are sitting, talking and waiting for the movie to start. Soon, the lights are dimmed and everyone is quietly looking at the movie screen.

"You notice that the opening scene is of a classroom. Children are walking in, talking calmly but eager for the day to start. It seems they are getting ready for a test. The teacher hands out the test booklets and reads the directions to the class as they follow along. The camera shows...

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Math and Reading
Posted by:camp823 #120227

Reading Strategies: UNWRAP
Underline the title
Number the paragraphs
Walk through the questions
Read the passage twice
Answer the Questions
Prove the answers twice (once in the passage-write the problem number, the other by the question- write the paragraph number)

Math Strategies: CUBES
Circle the numbers
Underline the labels
Bracket the question
Eliminate the extra information

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Here's what I use...
Posted by:lisakae2 #131278

Hope these help...

Cheerios - Cheering you to success or I'm CHEERing you on
Super Bubble Gum - I know you will do a SUPER job
Lucky Charms - Good LUCK today on your test
Starburst - You are a STAR or Shine like a STAR today
Licorice Twists - Don't let the test TWIST your mind
Hershey Hugs - A HUG from me to you to do the best that you can do

I am actually getting ready to present a workshop on this very topic. I am trying to come up with some HEALTHY treats with sayings for those schools who now have strict mandates on the sugar content of what they give the kids. Let me know if you get any more replies that I could use. Good luck!

I have so far...


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Maybe these are what you wanted?
Posted by:Risa #131279

Right after I left the previous post, I searched my files and found these. They were gathered from a variety of online sources and/or groups.

Day 1-Gum with a note that says: Blow the top off the test!
Day 2-Snickers-Let's not have any Snickers, just do your best!
Day 3-Starburst Candy- For a burst of energy to do a fantastic job
Day 4-Success all the way to the Milky Way
Day 5-Hugs and Kisses for putting forth your best effort!
Be a “smartie” and ACE this test! (smarties)
Blow the TOP off this test! (bubble gum)
A BURST of energy to do AWESOME! (starburst)
“KISS” your worries goodbye. Do great! (Hershey's kiss)
Don’t SNICKER !! Do your best! (mini Snickers)

1 pack of Smarties Candies - to...

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No title
Posted by:anngirl #131293

I sure know what you mean about making it fun. My class won't concentrate 5 minutes if its not fun.

One thing I did last year is I made a paper chain with one link for each day until the test. This was a physical reminder to all of us how much time we had left until the tests. They loved it. At the end of the day I'd choose a special helper who was sitting quietly to rip off the link for the day.

For Valentines day last year I gave the class red pens as a gift. Then in the afternoon after all the festivities I gave them a reading passage (that had something to do w/ valentines) but the twist was that I had already done the work. They had to use their red pens to check and/or correct the work.


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Something Fun...
Posted by:Becca #131294

Our school does a contest.
Each week the kids take a quiz in reading and math. Based off their scores (and the use of their strategies) they get a certain number of tickets.
Then on Friday afternoons, we have an assembly and a certain number of kids names are drawn from each grade. They get to shoot a basket, if they make it they get a prize. If they don't, they can ask a teacher or other school adult for "help".

Basically, they can get anyone to help until they make the basket. When they make the basket, they get a prize.

It is pretty motivating for the kids to want to get lots of tickets. I know most of you won't be able to do a school-wide activity, but you might be able to modify this for your rooms.

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For Grade3teacher --Question and Review Idea
Posted by:lbarrett #131295

When you mentioned you have workbooks specifically for the tests, can you provide more information (what state, where you get them, cost, grade level, etc.)?

Also, here is a group review activity my students enjoy. Separate your students into four or five groups (four per group is great but no more than 5 or six). Post large chart paper in various areas around the room (one for each group) Cover the chart paper with another piece of chart paper so groups cannot see each other's answers. Have individual groups select a leader (or you select), they decide how they will rotate in the group and give the group a name, give them a marker. Groups take a spot at one of the Chart-Paper stations and place the group name at the top of the chart. You ask a review question (short answer questions) and the first member of the group writes their response on the chart paper (keeping it...

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Posted by:anngirl #131296

About the practice test around the room:

Each student has a copy of a reading passage w/ questions. Beforehand I take an extra copy and do all the work and circle the correct answers. Then I cut each question out and tape it to the wall somewhere. I cover it with a piece of paper that has the question number on it. So when the students rotate to that spot, they see the question number they need to work. I give them a few minutes to do their work and discuss it. Then I give them a minute to check their work- they lift up the cover page and look at my answers. Then it is time to rotate to a new spot.

Its great. It is a nice change from desk work and it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.

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FCAT printables for test prep by Ms. Sanchez
Posted by:Risa #131297

One of our ProTeacher members, Florida teacher Mariely Sanchez, has some EXCELLENT resources on her web site! She has printable downloads for many areas, but also specifically for the FCAT. I use many of her resources with my students and I sing her praises to my colleagues!!

Ms. Sanchez' Class
(Go to "Teacher's Corner", ==> "Downloads" ==> "FCAT Resources")

Here's one of the downloads I am using (although I'm not in Florida):
Elementary FCAT Vocabulary List-(Other ways to say...)

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Try using......
Posted by:CPATeach #131391

...."Daily Warm-ups" for your morning work. When I get back to school on Monday, I will look at my book to find out who publishes these. They are great multi-genred short reading passages with related comprehension and critical thinking questions.

I call these "RAP's"...Read, Answer, Prove! The students must go back into the passage and highlight where they found the answer.

They are also great because the passages come leveled ie..below grade level, at grade level, above grade level!

There are also tons of test prep books out there..perhaps your grade level has sample books you can make copies from.

Hope this helps.

Also...about 60% of the score is derived from part one.....make sure you spend enough time on key words that are included in the questions..."mostly about", "all of the above except", go through...

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Posted by:Miss Meg #131393

The last post mentionped using felt pens to underline where in the passage answers came from, and my idea is similar. I give each student a highlighter and a pen. The students use the highlighters to highlight the answers to questions that come directly from the text: detail questions, sequencing questions, etc. For questions that require students to use inferencing skills, I have the students underline (with the pens) the part of the passage where the general idea is located.The students love using the highlighters (novelty) and using the two different pens helped them see that answers may be directly in the passage or may require them to infer. I don't know if this is what you were looking for, but I hope it helps!

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name tags
Posted by:snowpoppy2 #131358

I think I may have found this idea actually on here. But I have my kids wear a multiplication name tag every day. The kids are only allowed to call each other by the answer to the problem on each other's name tags. I wear one too so they have to call me Miss "49" if it's 7 x 7. They get really into it, and I don't respond unless they call me by the answer either. We really have fun with it!

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No title
Posted by:starry1 #132170

I just posted something about this further down so i copied and pasted it here:
We do that once a week test taking thing....I actually am starting to do it twice school orders special booklets for us: Test Ready (math and language arts) which is good for comprehension and basic computation and modeled after national standards....then we also have special prep books based for our State tests...We also have released test questions for the state website.....

we teach them HOW to take a test, by modeling and helping them practice certain Test Tip strategies.....we have special colored posters to help us, such as Plug and Play, Find the Stinker, Reread, Underline the answers, read the questions first, look for context clues, and etc......the kids get real familiar with the strategies. I say, okay today we...

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MORE Test Prep Songs-English and Spanish
Posted by:Risa #851

Last year I posted some "Positive Thinking" Test Prep Songs that I came up with. They got a great response! (I just checked...650 downloads! Wow!)

This year I added another one, and I came up with some songs in Spanish. This first attachment has the original three 'songs' that are written to the tunes of (1) Twinkle, Twinkle, (2) This Old Man, and (3) Itsy-Bitsy Spider. The newest song is "Ready for the State Test" to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad".

My students each have their favorites. I hope yours will, too!

Download: Positive Thinking Test Prep-2col-All Eng. Songs.doc (40.448 KB)

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Spanish Test Prep Songs
Posted by:Risa #852

I was going to leave both pages together as one, but I know that not everyone would need both Spanish and English.

This second attachment has the Spanish songs. For those who speak Spanish, they should be sung to the tune of (1) Un elefante se balanceaba and (2) A la vibora de la mar.

Download: Spanish Test Prep Songs-elefante, vibora.doc (32.256 KB)

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Posted by:drama_mama30 #132851

How about a wear RED day? That way we are RED-y (ready) for ISAT?

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I have SMART Cookie Cards
Posted by:iluv3rd #132852

to show we are all smart cookies. The cards have a gingerbread boy or girl on them with the word smart going down the side. Each letter in smart stands for a test tip.

Spend your time wisely.
Mark the best answer choice.
Always do your best.
Recheck your work.
Think positively.


We discuss the ideas and celebrate by eating cookies! We review the cards each day of testing, the kids wear the cards around their necks and have smart cookie snacks after each session.

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not a candy suggestion, but a song!
Posted by:noreenk #132861

In Texas we take the TAKS, and someone forwarded along this tune...

The TAKS Song
(to the tune of "I Will Survive")

At first I was afraid, I was petrified.
Kept thinkin' I could never pass it even if I tried.
But then I spent so many nights
Thinkin' hard and thinkin' long,
And I grew strong,
And I learned how to carry on.

Now TAKS is back, from outer space.
I just walked in to find that test staring at me
right in the face.
I know that I can really rock.
I know that I have got the key.
And now I know it's all because
My teachers taught the strategies.

Go on now, go, walk to that door.
Just walk on through...

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State test
Posted by:hazeleyesinnc #133002

In my elementary school we always had a pep rally that last about an hour and a half to 2 hours. Students watch a motivational movie to kick start them to positive. This is usually done the day that we do the survey questions and check to see that forms have been "slugged" correctly- county marks certain items on the answer sheets. Teachers perform and the each grade level- in my case 4th and 5th learned a cheer and we have a cheer off...they get to scream as loud as they can....its deafening. One of the High Schools sends their cheerleaders to perform for us as well. We also have a motivational speaker- Ms. NC, one of the Harlem Globe Trotters that lives in our area....etc. Its actually a great day with little for teachers to do....:)

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Testing motivation
Posted by:teachjam #132865

My favorite was when the teachers did a take on American Idol.
We called it "Brookwood Idol' for our school. We had teacher contestants who did stuff you "shouldn't do on tests" like not come on time, not eat breakfast, not listen, etc.
Then we had teachers who did it right! The kids went wild. Then daily we had a mult.choice question each class answered and returned to the counselor.

Next fav, was "Mission Impossible" changed to Mission Possible. Teachers and some older students dressed in shades and trenchcoats and challenged the school to answer the mission to answer the questions daily. It was a blast, complete with mission imp. music.
Daily our TV studio would post a question during this music theme and we would answer the mult. choice MISSION question. It was awesome!
It really got our kids psyched for...

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No title
Posted by:EarthMonkey #133045

If it is a reading comprehension test you might get them to recognize the different types of questions in a test:

right there
putting it together
text and me
on my own

right there is a question that is directly in the story in one spot, putting it together is aquestion that involves couple pages or paragraphs that need to be summarized, text and me is a question that requires some inference from the text, and on my own is a question which is based on prior knowledge.

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An idea...
Posted by:lynnylubner #133266

Once when my class was celebrating the end of testing at the big school-wide kick ball game we did cadence cheers all the way over:
*I don't know...but I've been told (Kids repeat after you)
*Testings over and it's no joke
*Sound off
*Sound off
*3, 4
*1,2 3,4
You could come up with different variations, but my third graders loved it!

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skit ideas to promote testing
Posted by:mlr629 #133714

Our school is having a test prep pep rally to promote our state testing. I have been asked to write a skit for the teachers to do to promote testing. We have done this in the past and the students love it and look forward to it each year. Unfortunately, this year, I am short on ideas. Thought about doing something based on "Deal or No Deal" or "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?"

Does anyone have any skits that you have written that promote testing that you would be willing to share?

Or, if you have any testing skit ideas that you would share, I would be grateful.

Thanks for your help!

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