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How to Make State Test Practice Engaging

It’s that time of year again. Time to do some state test practice. Sound boring? Well, it can be if you just give kids test prep review packets, have them complete them and turn them in.

But you can definitely make practicing for the state test fun and engaging. I’m sharing 3 ideas in this post.

Play Games to Review Test Practice Questions and Answers

Playing games is always a great way to get kids engaged and that goes for test prep too.

But how do you do this with practice assessments that are similar to the state test? 

First, allow the students to complete the practice test on their own. You can decide if you’ll give them a certain amount of time or let them take as long as needed.

Score the test as they finish or right after everyone completes it. You can give the kids some free time or even have them just read while you score it.

State Test Practice Paper with Multiple Choice Answers

When you score the test you’ll want to keep track of the questions students answered incorrectly on a separate sheet of paper. The reason for this is that you’ll want kids to discuss every question without knowing if they got it right or wrong.

If every student has a device, another option for scoring would be to input their answers into a Google Form so you’ll get immediate results.

After grading everyone’s test, group kids according to how they performed. So for example, all the kids that got 4 incorrect would be put together for the next part of the activity.

Give everyone their test back. In groups, the kids discuss each question at a time or a set number of questions depending on how many there are.

Something important to note is that when kids all have the same answer, they think it’s right. I tell them that even if everyone in the group has the same answer that does not mean it’s correct and they need to discuss the question to make sure.

After the group agrees on the answer (or answers) they bring it to you to check. Pick a random student’s test to check and if they’re correct they get a turn to play a game. 

Connect 4 Game for State Test Practice

They can take a turn to play after each answer check or earn a point that equals a turn to play after group discussions are over. Do what works best for your class. 

I’ve included ideas for games that have been kid and teacher-tested and approved at the end of the directions.

If the answer you checked is incorrect, the group goes back to discuss again for a second chance at getting it right. You can also have a rule that they must get it right the first time in order to play. Again do what’s best for your students.

The purpose of the activity is to get students talking about the different questions and learning from each other. 

Corn hole game for state test practice.

Tips for playing games to review during test prep review season:

  • Have students take the practice assessment and discuss in the morning and then have them play the game in the afternoon.
  • Have students take the practice test on one day and discuss the questions. Then they play the game on the second day. 
  • Don’t have students do this every single day of test prep season. I generally do this for a couple of weeks before the test and only have them do this about 3 times a week. If the kids are constantly doing tests before the actual state test, they’ll burn out.
  • Share games with other teammates so it’s cost-effective. If you have a Five Below in your area, they have great games for $5.

Game Ideas: 

  • Pie Face
  • Bean Boozled
  • Connect Four
  • Corn Hole
  • Door Basketball

Reading State Test Practice Motivation Activity

When taking a reading test I teach students that it’s a different kind of genre on its own. 

Kids need to learn the language of test questions and have strategies for answering them.

It’s good to have a refresher on those strategies right before the state test. To make it more engaging I do a little motivation activity that reviews the reading strategies during test prep season.

State Test Practice Motivation Activity

This reading test-taking strategies activity is done the same way as the review games I talked about earlier. Except this time, when a group gets a correct answer, they receive a card with one of the reading test strategies. 

When we play the game, the number of cards the group receives is the number of turns they get during the game. So the more cards they collect, the more turns they will have. 

Not only have the kids discussed the test questions, but they’ve also had a review on reading test-taking strategies. 

Goodies for After the State Test

This is not my original idea but I have tweaked it to make it work for my class. 

About a week or two before the state test I like to set out a closed box. 

Inside the box, I’ll put treats or small gifts for the kids to open after the state test is over.

I tell the class that in order to open their gift, they need to do their very best on the state test. I tell them I’ll be monitoring them and I’ll know if they tried and put forth their best effort.

This gets them VERY excited and they take it very seriously. 

Gift with orange and white polka dots wrapping paper and purple bow.

Some things I’ve put in the box as a gift: treats like individually wrapped cookies, a new movie and popcorn, new class game, coupons for things like free computer time or wear your pajamas to school. 

It adds some fun to the day of the test because they get to have some enjoyment after all the hard work they put in during the test. 

A Very Important Reminder About State Tests

You can have your best state test prep season and your students may still not perform at the level that your district or administration accepts. That is NOT your fault. 

If you did your very best to teach the skills and helped students learn, then you did enough. 

There are so many factors that go into why kids don’t do well on assessments. Celebrate the hard work you and your students did. Because that was amazing all by itself. 

I hope you found some ideas you’ll try out when you do some state test practice with your own students. Making it fun and engaging makes it so much less dreadful!

Check out these resources for test review:

Reading Test Prep Motivation Activity

Math Review Games

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