Assessment season is upon us. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time left to cover new content or reteach concepts your students have struggled with. You can, however, maximize their chances for success on test day with common sense testing tips and stress management techniques. Give these four ideas a try to offer your students a last-minute boost!
Work out the timing
Children often have a poor grasp on the concept of time, especially when they are preoccupied. Minutes can seem like hours and vice versa. One of the biggest stressors on test day is when students look up at the clock and realize they’ve taken too long to finish a section. This can quickly lead to more anxiety, rushing, and ultimately, mistakes.
Help your students prepare by dedicating time in class for a dry run of the test. Find the most accurate practice tests you can, and do your best to recreate the testing environment in your classroom. Then, stay faithful to the timing of the test sections. For an added challenge, limit your students’ access to clocks, with the goal being to have them internalize the passage of time.
Brush up on breathing
When people forget to breathe, thinking clearly becomes significantly harder. Anxious students often experience irregular breathing when they’re caught up in the stress of testing, and that only makes their situation more difficult. Test takers may not be able to do tai chi between sections, but there are some noninvasive steps they can take on test day to calm down with breathing.
Get started with these natural breathing exercises, which range in difficulty from beginner to advanced. Plenty of other resources can be found with a simple Internet search. Introduce your favorites now, and encourage students to rely on them when test time comes. It may sound too simple, but breathing works!
Tackle the technology
With the plethora of changes to states’ testing systems, along with the recent widespread adoption of technology in schools, preparedness for testing has become a moving target. Your school has almost certainly put in the time and effort to be prepared for the technology needed during test day (you’ve probably attended the staff meetings to prove it), but are your students similarly prepared?
It’s helpful to consider a few questions. If you are a 1:1 school, will students be able to use their own devices for the test? If not, does that represent a challenge? Are your students familiar with technology-enhanced item types? Has your state recently adopted a new testing platform? Even if students have been using your state’s testing system for a few years, spending a day reviewing sample questions and tests can help reacquaint them with the navigation.
Whether it’s because of anxiety or real-world issues like lack of time or resources, a rumbling stomach can be a big distraction on test day. If students miss breakfast, they’re at a disadvantage for the morning session. Organize a breakfast drive with your colleagues to make sure that you have granola bars, fruit, or other easy, grab-and-go options that can be distributed before testing starts. Also, many fast food restaurants offer free breakfast on test days. Do some research, and see what’s available in your community.
Looking for more tips to help students experience success on testing day—even if you’re short on time? Check out these 6 Tips for Teachers to Help Students Manage Stress!