Helping Students Ace Standardized Tests
March 22, 2023
Standardized tests are an inescapable part of education. Though they play an important role in the learning process, these tests can also generate a lot of anxiety and frustration, both for students as well as educators. Many of us remember what it was like to take these tests when we were students ourselves. The stress can be awful, while a single bad score could undermine all the hard work and growth we experienced during the year. The good news is that there are simple, effective strategies you can use to help your students perform their best on standardized tests.
To get started, consider implementing some of these in your classroom prior to any big assessments:
- Setting the Stage: A student’s environment can play a crucial role on how well they perform on a standardized test. For instance, temperature extremes can diminish student focus and impair their performance. While studies vary in their conclusions, all indicate that optimal cognition takes place between 67 and 75 degrees. Likely, a temperature between 68 and 72 will be best for helping your students perform well on standardized tests. Additionally, try to eliminate any unnecessary noise from the environment. While some people may prefer to work with music or sound, very few people actually benefit.
- Sound Mind, Sound Body, and Sound: A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Keeping students in their seats for long periods of time can stifle their ability to think and lead to a loss of focus. Simple stretching exercises can improve blood flow and can help energize students to maintain stamina through a long testing block. Additionally, Providing students with a small snack that is low on the glycemic index can give them the mental fuel they need to perform their best.
- Mind the Gaps: A rich environment won’t help a student much if they haven’t prepared mentally. For this, teachers should consider employing a good, old-fashioned brain dump. For a week prior to a standardized test, you can have students record as much as they can remember about what you learned during the different units you’ve explored. Have them write this out by hand — handwriting helps solidify knowledge in the memory. Follow this up with several partner reviews to reinforce it in students’ minds.
- The Three Biggies: Finally, it’s good to remember the basics of test taking: Keep students separated to minimize distractions, remind them to eliminate answers they know are incorrect, and when everything else has been done, encourage them to go with their gut.
Simply by taking small, positive steps, teachers can help their students overcome their anxiety and face their exams with confidence, clarify, and perseverance. So, take a moment to check in with your students individually and find out what they need to be at their best. You’ll be amazed at how a few small changes can help your classroom on the road toward success. If you found these strategies to be helpful, be sure to check out the full recording of the VAI webinar, Acing Standardized Tests: 7 Simple Ways to Supercharge Student Success for more awesome ideas.
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