Standardized testing is a normal part of education. It’s important for us so that we can properly assess where a student falls in their knowledge and if they will be meeting the standards they need to. Opinions on standardized testing seem to be a mix but it does give us a good read on our students’ skills and abilities so that we can properly determine how best to help them reach their educational goals.
While test-taking is essential, most students don’t exactly love it. For many of them, it’s a nerve-wracking experience and that combined with any external pressures they may be feeling can cause them to lose focus and negatively impact their performance and outcome. Naturally, this is something we need to avoid as much as possible so that we can get the most accurate results, but how do we do that?
We get them excited for test-taking!
I know what you may be thinking- that’s impossible! While I know they will never be as excited to take a test as they are to say, go to recess, it is something that we can increase motivation for and, in turn, improve their overall educational outcomes.
Test-taking doesn’t have to be scary. We must start by explaining to students that it doesn’t determine their worth. Taking a test is only a tool to help us understand the bigger picture going forward and is, therefore, nothing to fear.
Here are some tips for getting students excited for test-taking
Tap Into Student Interests
When preparing for tests, try to use prep materials related to your students’ interests. For instance, if your students love Minecraft, try to use it in your practice questions. Just the small act of using their interests can drastically increase engagement in test prep.
Give your students a little say in how you practice. Choose a couple of options for review and let students determine what they prefer to do. Giving them a choice goes a long way in how they feel about the process.
Offer a Class Reward
You can come up with a challenging but attainable goal for your students and if they reach it, they get a fun reward. This can be a pizza or cookie party, or you can even just hand out some candy. This will inspire students to work towards a goal that they are interested in and increase motivation to do well.
Offer Lots of Praise
Remember that this is a very stressful situation for them. Offer a lot of praise when you notice that a student does well on something. This is especially helpful for students who are struggling with the concept that you notice that they are working hard.
Offer Brain Breaks
Remember to take a break from test prep for a little funYou can get on YouTube to find some fun brain breaks for kids or you can even just turn on some fun music and have them dance it out for 5 minutes. These little breaks are not only fun but improve the motivation to keep going.
Use Inspirational Posters
Generally, when administering tests, all of our classroom decor and helpful posters have to be removed from the walls. Replace them with some motivational posters!
Offer Treats on Testing Day
Everyone loves a yummy treat, and our students definitely deserve them after all of their hard work. When they hand in their tests, offer a treat of some sort. This can be candy, a cookie, a Rice Krispie treat, etc. Just remember to check for allergies first. If you aren’t allowed to hand out food, you can offer small goodies like erasers, slinkies, fidget toys, etc. These can generally be found for a low price in bulk on places like Amazon. (Like these bendable pencils)
Testing time is hard for teachers and students alike, but it doesn’t have to be scary. We can properly prepare our students for the tests while also having fun and getting excited to prove how much they have learned.
I hope these tips help you this testing season! What are your favorite ways to get students motivated to take tests? Let me know in the comments!
Looking for more teaching tips for upper elementary? Check out my post for helping students write a research paper here!