As a teacher, you know the pressure of state tests all too well. And you may wonder: Would test prep materials be a good fit for my class? You’ve heard the myths about using test prep and may be hesitant. But when used with the right approach, test prep can prepare your students for tests without sacrificing quality education time in your classroom.
Myth 1: Test prep is too time-consuming.
For many teachers, each day is jam-packed with curriculum requirements, leaving little time for “extras.” Don’t worry. You can still fit test preparation into your busy day. Check out this advice from Scholastic for making time for test prep. It can be as simple as incorporating standardized test formats into your chapter and unit tests, or into your daily review exercises.
Myth 2: Test prep is teaching to the test.
Preparing students for the test doesn’t mean you have to teach to the test. As with anything, it’s what you make it. Test prep materials are designed to help students practice skills that will be tested, ease their fears, and build confidence. Test anxiety is a stumbling block for many students, so the more you can do to prepare students, the more likely they are to relax.
Myth 3: Test prep is one-size-fits-all.
Test prep materials can be used in a variety of ways in your room. Play to student strengths and weaknesses, since one of the best features of exam preparation materials is the flexibility of use. You don’t need to start at page one and go through the book. Pick and choose sections to reinforce topics that students need extra time with while skipping over skills they’ve mastered. Use the books in class, or send assignments home with students to review as homework.
“Students need to practice the item types they’ll encounter on tests to be successful,” says Continental President Eric Beck. In the case of online exams, especially those for English language proficiency (ELP), we suggest online test preparation,” he says. “It not only gives practice with tested content and item types, but it also familiarizes students with the technology demands they’ll face. This is particularly true of the questions that assess the speaking domain.”
Beck suggests that paper test review is better suited in certain situations than online practice.
“In math, for example, students do better with written practice because they can write the problem down on paper to work the problem out and eliminate incorrect answers,” he explains. And, of course, paper is available to all schools and students, regardless of access to technology.
Myth 4: Test prep isn’t necessary.
Think of test prep materials as extra support. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a one-on-one aide for every student in your classroom? While that’s not really practical, a test prep book can provide the individual support students need. You can use test prep books to supplement what you’re already teaching in class while providing extra practice for students who need it.
Myth 5: Test prep is boring.
To add a little flair to your test prep, why not make a game of it? Check out these fun games to get kids up and moving while they review key concepts. Focusing on fun helps take pressure off of your students while still making sure they’re getting the review time they need.