Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn't be here. I guarantee you that. – Michelle Obama
Standardized testing is one of the most polemic issues in education. Whether you’re gleefully sharpening a bouquet of no. 2 pencils in anticipation of the mandatory silence or breaking them in frustration with your bare hands at the thought of having to “teach to a test”, in education today, standardized tests are a fact of life.
The good news is that there are plenty of stress-free ways to prepare students for standardized testing that won’t put a strain on your time or resources. Using edtech and the tenets of social-emotional learning, you can help reduce test anxiety and set your students on a path to success.
Here are some of our favorite ways for getting your students ready for when standardized testing season rolls around!
1. Practice Multiple-Choice Questions
One of the essential parts of test prep is getting your students used to the type of questions they’ll face for their standardized tests, and that means multiple-choice.
The more experience your students have with answering multiple-choice questions, the better they’ll do on the actual test. In addition to just practicing the questions, however, make sure you give them some guidelines on how to best approach them.
First of all, focus on having your students read the question thoroughly before looking at the answers. You can ask them to cover up the answers as they go, or give them a version of the questions without the answer choices first.
This will encourage your students to be thoughtful as they read through the question and think about a potential answer before relying on the multiple-choice options, which helps develop their critical-thinking skills.
Once they have the answer choices in front of them, teach them how to use the process of elimination to narrow down their choices.
Finally, make sure to throw in some answer choices that unfortunately still pop up on the standardized tests: the dreaded “all of the above” and “none of the above” responses. Ensuring that your students understand that these choices exist and could appear will help them avoid surprises on testing day.
2. Use Edpuzzle for Formative Assessment
When it comes to multiple-choice questions, the perfect way to practice them using edtech is with Edpuzzle.
Rather than associating exam prep with nerves and make-it-or-break-it final test results, Edpuzzle makes the whole process fun with interactive videos for students embedded with questions.
It’s also the perfect tool to use for formative assessment, so it’s not as stressful as a test or quiz, and you as the teacher can measure your students’ results and see how they’re doing as the school year progresses.
Find videos on any topic under the sun, from the actual content your students will be tested on to videos with useful test-taking tips and strategies.
After all of your students have submitted their results, you can use Live Mode on Edpuzzle to go through and review your answers – your students will be so engaged that they won’t even realize they’re doing test prep!
3. Reinforce the Growth Mindset
The psychology professor who coined the phrase “growth mindset”, Dr. Carol Dweck, explains:
In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.
Emphasizing the growth mindset is crucial to your students’ success and test-taking self-esteem. If they approach a test with the fixed mindset (the idea that talent is something you’re either born with or not), students are more likely to fail or not live up to their full potential.
By encouraging your students and reinforcing the idea of the growth mindset, on the other hand, your students will be inspired to do their best work and achieve better results.
4. Review, Review, Review
Keeping the information that’s going to be tested fresh in your students’ minds is crucial to preparing them for standardized tests. After all, it’s only natural to expect that your students will need to review the material you covered in September for a standardized test in April!
Use Edpuzzle to periodically go back and refresh their knowledge on previous units, play review games like jeopardy, or go through flashcards to jog your students’ memories.
Just make sure you also spend enough time reviewing close to testing day, as the research shows that students retain the most when having reviewed within at least a week of the test.
5. Teach Mindfulness
After helping your students with study techniques and providing them with ways to review, one of the most helpful things you can do for them is to teach them to cope with test anxiety.
By practicing mindfulness in your classroom, your students will learn how to calm themselves down in stressful situations and mentally prepare for high-stakes standardized tests. Start with teaching them the importance of breathing and that it’s okay for them to close their eyes for a moment when they feel themselves getting overwhelmed.
If you incorporate mindfulness into your classroom in a small way on a daily or even a weekly basis, you’ll notice significant improvements in your students’ mental health.