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6 Easy Test Taking Skills You THINK Your Students Know

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}
When it comes to test taking, there are so many skills that our students need to master in order to do well and show their true abilities. So many times, I've found that many of the simple things that we expect our students to know are not instinctively done by our students. 

Below are a few test taking skills that I believe you should be spending time teaching to your students between now and the time that you begin testing. 

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Previewing Questions

When your students are taking a test, they NEED a purpose. When we are reading a novel at home or as a read aloud, it's ok to just read and have fun. Unfortunately, that isn't the world that we live in when it comes to testing.

Where do your students find their purpose? They find it by previewing the questions! They need to know if they are look for the main idea, making an inference about how a character feels, or searching for a "right there" answer. Without previewing the questions, they don't know what to look for as they read.

So, why do we need to teach this explicitly? Honestly, our students are lazy. They want to dive in and get it done. They don't want to spend an extra time reading. They want to start reading and answer the questions afterward. Show them WHY they need to preview the question.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Highlighting the Text

I once worked with a classroom teacher that required all students to highlight in every passage that they read. The problem? The kids didn't know what to highlight. Some students didn't highlight much at all. Other students had more highlighted space than white space left on the page. Students NEED teachers to show them what to highlight.

When your students preview the questions, they also know what to highlight. If the question asks which word describes a character, your students should know they need to have their highlighter radar on when they see a sentence or a phrase that tells how what the character reacts, responds, or demonstrates a character trait.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Restating the Question

I am able to be see so many classrooms and help so many kids. One thing I've noticed--every teacher tells their students to restate the question. But, do you know what else I've noticed? Some groups of students hear it and have no clue what to do. Others know exactly what to do and are able to restate the question, even if only minimally, better than others. In my opinion, students need to be taught this explicitly. They need to know that this is the expectation and WHY this is important. I always tell my students that restating the question helps them sound smarter, but most importantly, helps them know that they are actually answering the question. 

I have a PowerPoint, booklet, and example passages to help explicitly teach your students to restate the question. You can find them in my Restate the Question packet on TpT. Once we use the booklet to understand what it means to restate the question, we practice by cutting up the words and rearranging them to help us restate the question, as shown in the picture above. I have a blog post with the details on this activity that I do in my small groups, if you would like to read more about it as well.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Finding the Supporting Evidence

Some students are really good at answering a question, but that doesn't always mean that they are ready to support their answer with evidence from the text. Again, this is something that we tell our students, but they don't always know how to actually do it.

I like to have my students begin by answering a question that has more than one right answer. Students can support each side of the answer with various pieces of evidence. It's a great way to explicitly teach and prepare students for transitioning to finding the evidence on their own. If this looks like something that your students need to practice, you can find it in my TeachersPayTeachers store.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Managing Time

Some kids speed through the test. Other kids need you to nudge them every five minutes to make sure they are alive. This is truly a skill that many students need to be taught in order to understand how their needs.

There are many aspects to this, depending on if you are focusing on reading or writing. For example, students need to understand that if a test is thirty minutes and they have three passages to read, they only have ten minutes per passage. In writing, students need to realize that if they have fifty minutes to write their response, they can't spend thirty minutes of that planning. Instead, they must be reminded that they should spend approximately five minutes planning, 35-40 minutes writing, and 5-10 minutes editing. Of course, each student is unique in their needs, but discussing this with your students as you practice for upcoming testing is critical.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

Planning for Writing

Just like the highlighting example above, I feel like students approach the planning page in one of four ways. They either (a) have no clue what to write, (b) write WAYYYY to much, (c) write something down without a system of organization or reason, or (d) write nothing because most testing scripts say that the planning page isn't graded.

Your students need you to help them know what to write during their planning time and WHY planning is so important. Planning is needed for even the best writers. In what order will you write your paragraphs? What are you going to say in your introduction, after all your introduction should tease what is to come in later paragraphs. Without planning ahead of time, how can you make these decisions about your writing.

I love to use graphic organizers to teach students to plan properly. Since the planning page is often 90% blank, I teach my students to quickly draw the graphic organizer that would be most beneficial to them. They can do that with a few seconds and have a good way to organize their thoughts.

There are many skills a student needs to master to prepare for testing. The reading and writing portion of testing usually brings out skills that we thought our kids knew but didn't. This blog post lists a number of skills to practice with your students before testing so they are prepared. Previewing/ restating questions, highlighting text, finding supporting evidence, and managing time are among the top skills! {printable, reading, writing, testing, upper elementary}

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