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Give Your Students Their Best Chance for Success with a Test-Prep Boot Camp

Give Your Students Their Best Chance for Success with a Test-Prep Boot Camp

We’ve now reached crunch time. You and your students have gone through most of your curriculum and are now tying up the loose ends before state testing begins. It may feel as though the students’ success is out of your hands, but there still are some ways to get the most out of the month before pencils start bubbling in answers (or laptops are opened).

Structure and planning

Cram sessions are notorious letdowns when it comes to study habits. You have a month, so use it systematically to isolate your students’ weaknesses. It can start with some formative assessment. Then, the skills in which students are most deficient need to be spaced out into equal chunks so that they use up all of your time until test day. Equal time for everything means a greater opportunity to cover everything you need.

You want to include students in this process, not only so that they have some ownership of your boot camp but also so that they understand why they need more help. Any student in the class should know why you are spending a week in March on a skill that was originally covered in October.

A rigid schedule

As you well know, many children have very little reference for time. Something that only happened last week may seem like a month ago. If you ask them how old they think you are, prepare to be offended. So, it’s no surprise that time gets away from students during testing. Some simply have no internal clock.

That’s why it’s important to stick to a schedule when the stakes aren’t so high. During your boot camp, things need to be timed out to the minute so that students can start to feel what certain chunks of time are like. Scaffold this work by giving them time hints earlier in the boot camp and then gradually forcing them to rely on the clock themselves.

Also, maintain the same format for each lesson as a mnemonic device. For a rough example, introduce the concept, then watch a video, then practice, and then summarize. The young brain craves repetition and can often spur itself to find some. If a student struggles on adding fractions, simply reading the introduction to that testing section can spur the brain to the next step in the process: the video. Of course, there won’t be an actual video on testing day, but your student’s brain will force itself to remember one anyway--and the hints it may provide.

Active learning

Don’t forget the graphic organizers during boot camp. They are critical to unlocking the active learning centers of students’ brains, helping them better retain the information. Also, give students opportunities to recite information aloud, which helps the brain move data from short-term to long-term memory.

Looking for more test-preparation resources? Check out our FREE test-prep toolkit and download it today!