Test Prep: Engaging and Meaningful Ways to Prepare for State Testing

It's March, and that means it's time to start preparing our students for state testing.  If I'm being honest, I try my hardest to not make “test prep” a big deal to my students. Instead, my goal is always to integrate test prep seamlessly into our normal routine.  That way, students never get the impression that we are doing something solely to prepare for a test–instead, we are just learning and growing like any other day at school.

It's March, and that means it's time to start the monumental task of test prep. Here are some engaging lessons to use.

Standardized Test Prep Ideas

​Here are a few ways that I add in review/test prep this time of year that are still engaging and meaningful to students.

Task Cards:

Task cards are still a staple in my classroom because there are SO many ways you can use them! Go on a scavenger hunt, play SCOOT, use them with board games. The options are endless. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use task cards for test prep:

  • With games! It's easy to prep and students LOVE it. I like to choose fast games like Candy Land (yes, even big kids love this), Chutes and Ladders, Guess Who?, Connect Four, etc. Each time it's their turn, they get a task card and complete it in order to take their turn.
  • As a “Passport” activity. Students get a passport of tasks they have to complete for a variety of different topics. I love this because you can totally differentiate it. I usually end up with multiple different passports because students have different needs. I separate my task cards into concepts, and I usually put 2-3 sets in each concept area so that they get a VAST review of concepts. I do not use the entire set of task cards for this. I usually pick out 10-12 for students to complete from each set since it's just a review. You can use the rest throughout the year! You can grab the FREE, mostly editable passport HERE as well as suggested task cards that I use for review (you can use any task cards AND you can include reading skills as well).
  • As a Jeopardy-style game show. I have blogged about this before… click HERE for more information on using task cards for a game show style review! It's always a huge hit in my class.

I have hundreds of task cards (including many free versions) for READING and MATH.

Math Projects:

Math projects are a staple in my classroom, so it made so much sense for me to incorporate a math test prep project into my schedule. I created this years ago, and I absolutely LOVE using it! It reviews every single standard for 4th and 5th grade, and it's such fun, too. It is a school-themed project, so I usually do a mini room transformation to make it look extra “schooly.” Think: yellow tablecloths for school buses, red apples, etc.

I have both a 4th-grade version and a 5th and 6th-grade version.

Topple Blocks Games:

Talk about ENGAGEMENT! When I use Topple Blocks as a review, I typically combine several games and have them do one color from each game as a review. I've heard of some teachers doing stations, too, where they work through as much of one full game at each station. You can read more about how I use Topple Blocks HERE.

Paired Passages:

In the past, I'm guilty of using rigid “test prep” passages with students. They were always so, so bored, and I felt like we were just doing them out of obligation.  Recently, though, I have come up with a much more engaging (AND rigorous AND meaningful) way of incorporating paired passages into my reading test prep. I created two different types of booklet format reviews.

The first style uses paired passages to review certain reading skills. While these are really great for use year-round, they are also great for test prep time, too. Here is a sample of my Cause and Effect Paired Passages Booklet:

This next set of paired passages booklets is TRULY made for test prep! It covers two stories in GREAT depth and reviews a wide variety of reading skills. There are TWO sets of paired passages in this resource. Click HERE to learn more.

Error Analysis:

When we teach our students to think critically about math concepts, we are setting them up for success during state testing. There are SO many multi-step questions and problems that require students to evaluate errors, so I always incorporate several of these tasks as I am prepping my students. HERE are all of my error analysis units, including a FREE addition version!

Strategy Reviews: ​

This is key! In both math and reading, I incorporate specific skill strategy reviews. In Math, this is usually done in the form of reviewing CUBES for problem solving. In reading, I usually make comprehension skill review foldables with them.

HERE is a huge blog post about how I teach and review problem solving. It also includes some great FREE resources for reviewing multi-step problems!

HERE is a huge blog post about how I teach and review reading skills that includes a FREE reading skills sort.

HERE is another post that includes a FREE anchor chart and interactive notebook resource.

Need More Resources For State Testing Prep?

I know this blog post featured more paid resources than usual, but I just had so much I wanted to share! Are you looking for a HUGE post of even more state testing prep ideas, including anchor charts, motivators, etc? Here is a test prep blog post chocked full of more ideas.

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