This section offers advice and materials for teaching students how to take tests more effectively. It also provides a recipe for How to Create Critical Reading Questions.
Test-taking involves reading and writing skills, but it also requires test-taking savvy. Students need to know how test-makers think, and they need to know how to manage their limited time. If students are confident that they know what they are getting into, they are more likely to succeed.
HOW TO DEMYSTIFY TESTS FOR STUDENTS:
For writing assessments:
- Show students exemplars that have been scored. Start with an EXCELLENT model and point out what makes it so good. Explain how the rubric works.
- Give students opportunities to evaluate an array of exemplars so that they become comfortable with the rubric.
- Teach students how to unpack the writing task so that they know how to answer the question fully.
- Teach students how to pre-write effectively, and give them LOTS of practice with timed pre-writing exercises. They need to know what 5 minutes feels like.
For reading assessments:
- Teach students the CODE WORDS that indicate what kind of question is being asked. Then give them sample questions and see if they can determine what kinds of questions they are. See the “Connecting Reading, Writing, Test-Prep” subsection for common critical reading code words.
- Teach students how to recognize genre and annotate accordingly. See Generic Annotation Rubrics for Fiction and Nonfiction in the Download Zone.
- Give students lots of practice in annotation and hold them accountable for annotating so that they see the value of it and it becomes a habit.
- To reinforce the importance of using process of elimination, give students practice exercises that require them to EXPLAIN WHY each wrong answer is wrong.
- Show students How to Create Critical Reading Questions (in the Download Zone) so that they can see for themselves how test-makers operate.
- For additional strategies, see Sentence Completion Strategies , Test Prep Tips , Test Prep Tips 102 , and Vocab in Context Strategies--Signals and Context Clues in the Download Zone and the READING section.
IN THE DOWNLOAD ZONE for Generic Test Prep Strategies:
- Generic Annotation Rubrics for Fiction and Nonfiction
- How to Create Critical Reading Questions (NEW AND IMPROVED!!!)
- Critical Reading Questions TEMPLATE (NEW!)
- Sentence Completion Strategies
- Test Prep Tips
- Test Prep Tips 102
- Vocab in Context Strategies--Signals and Context Clues
- Test Prep Tips--Multiple-Choice Strategies