It’s getting to be that time of year again! Elementary students are gearing up for the big end-of-year tests. Whether you administer standardized tests or not, these test-taking strategies for elementary students will help them feel more confident as they head into an assessment.
Build Student Reading Stamina
Many standardized tests are packed with long reading passages. These reading passages will be difficult for students to read if their reading stamina isn’t strengthened. Figure out which students are able to read for long periods of time and which may need more practice to increase reading stamina. These test-taking strategies for elementary students will help them in the long run.
Independent reading times:
Observe your students while they read and watch for signs that their reading stamina is low. If you see them constantly changing texts or losing focus, these students may need some extra help with reading for longer lengths of time.
Small group reading:
During your teacher time, practice different types of reading fluency using echo reading, repeated readings, reading buddies, or readers’ theater. Their reading fluency will improve as they read in different ways.
Help Students with Vocabulary Strategies
If you follow me, you know I’m big on vocabulary. Understanding root words is important to understanding deeper meaning in text and much more. Here are some tips for helping your students as they prepare for testing when it comes to vocabulary words.
- Use context clues when searching for the answer. Swap out the answer choice in the sentence to see which one makes sense.
- When you come across unknown words, break them into word parts you are familiar with.
- Connect unknown words to words you do know. If students understand the word circle, they can apply that knowledge to words like semicircle or circumference.
Using test-taking strategies for elementary students will give them confidence as they work through difficult or unknown words. Remind them of these strategies often.
Encourage Brain Dumps or Jotting Things Down
As students work on their tests, encourage them to stop and jot down things they notice about what was read. Provide them with scrap paper to jot down important information they can refer to later when they begin to answer questions. By using these notes, they will be able to go back to specific parts of the text to find their answers quickly.
Similarly, before a test, give students a blank piece of paper and ask them to write down everything they know about the subject they will be tested on. This brain dump allows them to “study” quickly before a test and bring everything they need to know to the forefront of their mind. Test-taking strategies for elementary students can include simple things like this that get their brains working before a test.
Tips for Answering Questions in General
The questions students see on tests will come in all forms, but here are some general tips to help them eliminate incorrect answers and find the right one. Growing up, we were taught to use the process of elimination, and it still applies today!
- As you read, underline keywords in the question, so you don’t get confused while finding the answer.
- See if you can predict the answer before reading over the answer options. This will help you find the answer based on the one that is closest to your prediction.
- Read through all of the answers and cross off any you are confident are incorrect.
- Highlight evidence in the text to help with finding the answer.
How to Teach Test-Taking Strategies for Elementary Students
The end of the year is coming, and I’m sure you have taken the whole year to implement test-taking strategies. But if you haven’t, it isn’t too late to begin modeling them. Students shouldn’t be expected to know how to take a standardized test. They need to be shown the ins and outs of a test and how they can successfully navigate them.
Depending on your teaching style, you can implement test-taking strategies for elementary students throughout the year, or you can do a crash course in the weeks leading up to the test. This is up to you and completely dependent on the needs of your students.
Many teachers will also coach their students through tests the first few times they take them. This doesn’t mean giving them the answers but guiding them through the appropriate ways to eliminate incorrect answers and find the correct ones using the strategies mentioned above. After a test, it’s also beneficial to go over the correct answers so students can see where they went wrong and how they can improve for next time.
As your students prepare for the end-of-the-year tests, use this study skills flipbook to help them gain confidence in their test-taking strategies.