Since our 3rd graders are new to standardized testing, I wanted to provide them with tips to help the experience be as painless as possible. I stumbled across this great idea from Vanessa at Savvy School Counselor Blog and adapted it for our students' needs. I wanted to accomplish creating the foldable in one guidance lesson, so I shortened it to 8 tips that were most relevant for our students. Here is an example of my model:
- BE PREPARED: I began with 3 tips for them to be prepared for testing. The first was to go to bed early. This was received with many moans and groans. :) I explained that when you are nervous about something coming up, you often have lots of thoughts swirling around in your mind and have trouble falling asleep. By getting into bed early, you won't lose as much sleep tossing and turning. Next I mentioned to have a hearty breakfast. Your brain is a muscle, just like the ones in your arms and legs and even your tongue! It gets tired and fatigued when it is thinking for long periods of time without a break. We can feed our brain the energy it needs to help us try our best on the STAAR tests by eating eggs or oatmeal. Anything with lots of sugar in it will give your brain energy for a little bit and then you'll crash fast. Finally, I reminded students to bring a healthy snack to eat during your break. I also shared with them that we'll be providing water bottles for them.
- NO FEAR: There are a lot of rumors circulating about the STAAR test: if you don't pass it you won't go to 4th grade, if you don't pass it the school will close down, if you don't pass it you'll fail, etc. All of these are not true. The focus needs to be on trying your best and not being afraid. You are prepared and ready for to try your hardest and show-off your smarts.
- JAIL THE DETAIL: Tests are full of tricks around every corner. They include a lot of extra information that you might pay more attention to than what is really important. Circle and underline key information, for example circling important numbers you need to solve a math problem, underlining the question, writing out quick summaries of what you've read, etc. Also, be sure to eliminate extra information that is put there in an attempt to distract you.
- CHECK IT OUT: After you finish your test, go back and check your answers if you have time. Also check your bubbles to make sure they're completely filled in. It would stink to have bubbled the correct answer but have it counted wrong because the scantron scanner couldn't read it accurately.
- REFRAME YOUR THINKING: What you think will come true, so use positive self-talk to pump yourself up for the test. Say "I can do it!" "I'm going to try my personal best!" "I am ready at attack the test."
- PLUG IT IN: Remember to read through all of the answer choices before selecting one. You need to find the right one that fits into the outlet of accuracy. Even though answer choice A may look right, there could be a better choice.
- PACE YOURSELF: You will have 4 hours to take the test, this is A LOT of time. Then benchmark tests do not take you this long. There is no need to rush through to be the first one finished, because you'll be sitting there quietly for a long time waiting for everyone else to finish. That's boring. :) If you get stuck on a question, just skip it and come back to it later. Your teacher will check over your answer document to make sure you've bubbled in an answer for every question, so don't be worried about forgetting to come back to it.
- STASH THE TRASH: Cross out those ridiculous answers that you know are wrong. There is always at least one, sometimes even 2 or 3 that don't answer the question or make any sense. Narrow it down to increase your probability to choosing the correct answer.