You are currently viewing 3 Ways to Engage Your Students During Reading Test Prep

3 Ways to Engage Your Students During Reading Test Prep

It’s reading test prep season and you’re dreading another day of review. Another day of opening up those reading test prep books and having kids read the passage and answer the questions. 

BORING. For you and the kids.

But reading test prep doesn’t have to be boring. It can be engaging and fun!

In this post I’m sharing 3 ways to make reading test prep more engaging.

Reading Strategies Motivation

With my reading strategies motivation resource, students earn different strategy cards for doing well on reading test prep passages. 

For the last two weeks leading up to the state test, the students complete a reading passage daily. 

I review reading test-taking strategies such as Slash the Trash. Slash the Trash is where students get rid of 50% of the answers they KNOW for sure aren’t correct. 

I hang up a poster as I review each strategy and give the students a reference sheet to use during their test practice sessions. (They do not use them on the state test.)


I score the tests and any student that receives a passing score receives a strategy card. The cards can later be turned in for prizes such as treasure box toys, candy, or coupons.

What they turn the cards in for doesn’t have to cost much. The treasure box items are things I’ve found at the dollar store or in the dollar section at Target. Coupons are free because they can be for things like wearing a hat all day or chewing gum. 

The kids get super motivated to earn the cards and at the same time are practicing reading test-taking strategies. It’s a win-win!


Another fun way to do reading test prep is to do a breakout. Kids LOVE breakouts. 

The students read a passage and answer the questions independently. 

They get into partnerships or groups and discuss a certain amount of questions and answers. The amount will depend on how many questions the practice test has. If there are 20 questions, I would typically have them go over 4 at a time. 

When they think they have a set of correct answers, I choose one student at random whose paper I check. 

Each time they get a set of answers correct, I give them a number or letter for the breakout code. If there are 20 questions, your code could have 5 numbers or letters (or both). 


If a group or partnership doesn’t have the right answers for the 4 questions, I give them some help and have them return to discuss in order to get the answer right. 

The point is for them to succeed on the state test. So giving them guidance and opportunities to get the right answers during review time is important. 

Independent Breakout

If you aren’t allowed to have kids work in groups or partnerships, they can also do this activity individually. They wouldn’t discuss the questions and answers with anyone. And it would take a lot more time to check the work but it can be done!

When a student, group, or partnership has all the numbers/letters for the code, they break out! You can give them a piece of candy or have them hold up a sign that says “We broke out!” and take a picture of them just like they do at those escape room places.

Digital Break Out

If you’re teaching a virtual class, you can still do a breakout! To do a virtual break out you would use Google Forms.

Create a Google Form with different sections for each set of questions. Students enter their answers and if they’re correct, they get to move onto the next section that has the letter or number for their code.

After they’ve answered all of the questions, they would type in the code. In the end, you could include a fun little GIF or picture to show that they broke out!

Reading Test Prep Vocabulary

Reading comprehension isn’t just important for finding the correct answers on state tests. Kids need reading comprehension skills for the questions.

As you’ve seen on reading test prep material, some of those questions have words that kids need to know in order to understand what they’re asking.

I like to use these reading test prep flashcards and a vocabulary activity to help them with this. The flashcards are both digital and printable so they can be used in different types of learning settings.

Using the flashcards, each day I go over 1 or 2 of the vocabulary words or phrases that I know kids need to know for the reading state test like “draw a conclusion”.

As we near the state test and they know the vocabulary, we do a reading test prep vocabulary superhero puzzle activity. This is similar to the context clues game I talk about HERE. The content though is all about reading test vocabulary.

Their mission is to help the superhero get their power back by putting them back together! 


The way the kids complete this activity is similar to the breakout. Kids answer a set number of questions pertaining to important reading test prep vocabulary.

When they get a set number of correct answers they earn puzzle pieces for their superhero. If you’re not able to do it as a puzzle activity, they can color parts of their superhero.

When they’ve completed the puzzle or finished coloring their superhero, they get a badge to color!

This is a really fun and engaging way to practice what would otherwise be a boring task.

Reading test prep doesn’t have to be boring. In fact you can look forward to it by trying out these activities!

💜 Marlene

🛒 Shop This Post

Click the Pictures to Learn More:

Leave a Reply