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10 Classroom and School Tips to Improve Test Scores

10 Classroom and School Tips to Improve Test Scores

As your curriculum runs down and anxiety ramps up, you may think that there’s nothing more you can do to prepare your students for test day. But, there are always ways to help students. Here are ten tips to make sure that they have every chance to succeed!

Prepare students for the test itself

Tests change even more often than standards based on such things as contractor changes, technology upgrades, and other factors. The testing services provide demos for a reason. Make them available to your students, and ensure that students know how to navigate any software that is needed. This is particularly true in math, where helpful tools like calculators may be hidden under a button or setting.

Benchmark your learners

Conduct one more benchmark assessment before testing season just to make sure that there isn’t one last topic in which everyone can improve with just a bit more practice. You’ve done a lot of benchmarking up to now, but things change quickly during the school year.

Leverage your data

Make one more pass at wholesale data study to make certain that there isn’t something missing from your students’ skill sets. In fact, bring in the students so that they understand the skills they need and learn where they must progress in order to score well on the test itself. 

Provide students with incentives

Students aren’t known for intrinsic motivation, and a lot of practice can test their patience even further. Whenever possible, make practice a game, and offer consistent rewards to keep the students striving forward.

Practice previewing

Previewing test sections before answering questions can be a valuable skill on test day, saving time and closing gaps of understanding. Although it’s great to practice previewing in the context of a larger testing item, devoting some time to previewing itself can help all students get the point. 

Let parents help

Although local news reports run the occasional story about upcoming testing, parents won’t know what’s going on with their individual children unless you tell them. Keep them informed of the schedule, the process, and the preparations the class is taking. That sets up parents to having meaningful conversations and helping with practice at home.

Create a positive culture

Help students set some goals and then never let them act as though they won’t reach those goals. Celebrate every little success during practice, and model that culture for other students as well. This can alleviate much student anxiety when test day comes. 

Practice, practice, practice!

The cliché is true: practice does make perfect. Create a review plan that provides multiple chances for students to practice not only the content they will need to know but also the testing format. Make sure that your plan includes modalities beyond taking practice tests—games, writing, and speech exercises can help students retain information and gain a deeper understanding of concepts. The more exposure that students have to the material and testing environment, the more comfortable they will be when testing day arrives.

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Be the students’ “catering manager”

On testing day, students’ minds are in their stomachs. Research has proven repeatedly that hungry students perform more poorly on tests than those who are well fed. Come to testing day with granola or energy bars, and ask parents to do their best on the home front. Some local fast-food restaurants even offer free breakfast for students during testing week, so check out participating ones and make sure that parents know about them.

Keep students moving

Just like a rumbling stomach, an aching back or neck can drag down a student’s score. Spend some time showing students some proven seated stretching techniques and breathing exercises. When the test offers a break period, allow students to use it to move around, not stay seated in the same place they’ve spent the past hour or more.

Looking for more ways to aid in your test-prep efforts? Check out this resource on Four Steps to Design Your Own Test-Preparation Boot Camp!

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Scott Sterling

Scott Sterling is a former English teacher who worked in Title I middle and high schools in St. Petersburg, Florida who is now a freelance writer who focuses on education. He is also a stay-at-home dad to his 4-year-old daughter Lily, who will soon be starting her own educational journey.