It’s that time of year again…

by becky on March 17, 2013

Standardized testing. I don’t know about those of you who have to administer these high stake tests each year, but I’m so glad ours are over. In Illinois, we give the ISAT tests. This year, I still worked hard to prepare my students, but I didn’t do as much before test prep with them. Did we practice reading responses? Yes. Did we practice math extended responses? Yes. Did I teach mean, median, mode, and range even though we aren’t on that in math right now? Yes.

The difference is this year, I kept teaching. I honestly didn’t devote any extra time to taking practice tests (with the exception of the extended responses) because there is so much “extra” testing my district has now implemented that I feel like it’s getting harder and harder to actually teach what I need to teach. That being said, I still wanted my students to feel confident going into the week of ISAT’s so I tried to calm their nerves in other ways.

Testing Strategies

One of the big problems some students have is not completing the tests in the alloted time. Through the help of testing strategies, they are given tools to help them narrow their choices down allowing them to choose an answer and keep on trucking through these “super fun” tests. P.S. My catch phrase is “super fun” this year. lol, my school neighbor gets to hear me say that phrase at least twice a day. Sorry Steve.  🙂

I try to teach and use a new testing strategy a week in order to fill their toolbox per se. I hang them above the whiteboard for easy reference as I teach them. Strategies include:

  • Slash the Trash: Read ALL choices. Eliminate any choices that you know are wrong answers. Think carefully over the choices left. Choose what you think is the best answer.
  •  Jail the Detail: Underline or circle the details in the questions! This helps you focus on exactly what the question is.
  •  Extra! Extra! Read All About it: Read the directions, questions and texts carefully! Reread if you are confused or if you need to find an answer.
  •  Take Your Test Twice: When you have completed the test, go back and check your answers.  Make sure that you didn’t leave any answers unmarked or you will not have the chance to get it right!
  •  Be a Whiz with the Grid: A machine grades your tests.  If it isn’t bubbled just right, you won’t get credit for your hard work.
  •  Plug it in! Plug it in! Once you have chosen your answer, plug it in and make sure it makes sense.
  •  Be Slick and Predict: Read the question carefully. Predict what the answer could be before you read the choices! This will help you pick the correct answer.
  •  Go with your gut: You are prepared for this test. Trust yourself and don’t second guess your choices.

This year was the second year that our Home-School Committee threw a Rock the ISAT parent informational. At the meeting, parents are given a presentation of what they can do to help prepare their child for these high stake tests and they have the opportunity to ask questions. While the parents are in their meeting, their school-aged children (who are encouraged to attend) have their own meeting. 🙂

Students who are in K, 1, and 2 meet up to decorate motivational water bottles for the students in 3, 4, and 5. Here is a shot of some of the finished bottles.

Then, the test takers themselves created kid-friendly strategy posters that they hang up in the intermediate hallways to help remind kiddos of how to be successful. Here are some of my favorites:


After the testing was FINALLY done… my kiddos were lucky enough to have a snow day the day before ISAT testing which took our testing to the day after the time change in IL. OMG, the morning tests that day were “super fun”. But, we all got through them and they were rewarded with these on their desks the day after tests were collected, disposed of turned into the front office, and the room was put back to normal.
If you want to help your kiddos Rock their Tests (appropriate for ANY test), click on the picture below and visit my shop for your own copy.
In this 31-page file you will receive:
*Pictures of how I used these in my own classroom.
*Blank water bottle labels for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017
*Pre-printed water bottle labels for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017
*9 Test taking strategy posters in sunburst theme
*9 Test taking strategy posters in colorful theme with strategy explanations
*Suggestions for “Ways to say Good Luck”
*Way to Rock the Test cards for your students after they complete their testing.
For other FANTASTIC testing ideas, click the button below and visit Sidney’s Linky party where you can find other ways to prepare your students! 🙂
 No matter what you do to help your students prepare, I wish you and your students the best of luck!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Janice Riddle April 5, 2013 at 12:31 am

I love your rock the test ideas and would like to use them at my school!


Sidney M April 7, 2013 at 12:36 am

Great post! Please consider accepting my invitation to link up this blog post at the TEST PREP LINKY PARTY being hosted at


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