Pass That Test! 18 Test Taking Resources and Strategies!

“… these tests are unable to measure all of what it is that makes you the valued person who you are.” – Principal Len Christie

In Chapter 17: Re-evaluate Value of the The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, I discuss the high stakes associated with standardized testing:

Standardized testing is stressful for students, parents and teachers. You might feel like me that they are detrimental to learning and a plague on the education system. Even though I’d like to abolish them completely, I realize standardized testing is part of the education system and not going away anytime soon. Therefore, teachers need to help students learn strategies and tips to help them pass tests. The strategies below not only help students cope with the stress and inequality of standardized testing, these strategies also help students cope with stress in their lives. These strategies are also included in a slide presentation you can download as a pdf. Click to access the bookmarks. ​​

Get your copy of Hacking Digital LearningThe 30 Goals Challenge, or Learning to Go. Ask me about training your teachers,!

Strategies and Resources

  • Write students and parents a letter letting them know students are worth more than their scores, such as this inspiring letter written by Principal Len Christie.
  • Provide students with information on any accommodations given to them and how they can apply for these accommodations.
    • The Americans with Disabilities Organization provides information about these accommodations here.
    • All parents should be given this information early, because sometimes students, especially in the primary years, haven’t identified learning disabilities.
    • Make sure students apply before any deadlines.
  • Let parents and students know how to opt out of standardized testing and alternatives. The National Center for Fair Testing provides important information on how to write letters and alternatives to standardized testing in the US.
  • Much research shows standardized testing doesn’t fairly assess students and associated with unfair high stakes. To help students achieve higher scores you will need to familiarize students with the format and procedures, time limits for each section, materials they are allowed to bring, scoring, what is included in each section, requirements, and any general information (location, times to take the test, the temperature, etc).
  • Get students to practice taking the test with no penalties so they can become familiar with the test format and procedures as well as identify areas of confusion, low scoring areas, stressors, and base knowledge.
  • The Khan Academy website and iOS/Android app has excellent resources for prepping for the SATs, GMAT, MCAT, CAHSEE, IIT JEE, and NCLEX-RN.
    • I especially like the Khan Academy SAT prep resources which include practice tests, identifying problem areas in conjunction with College Board, and specific feedback on written essays.
  • Find many different practice tests and test prep help with the following web tools and apps- Shmoop, Accuplacer by the College Board, Prep Factory (get help with SATs, ACTs, PARCC, and SABC exams), and Exam Elf (free website and mobile app to help with STAAR, PARCC, and Test Taking Strategies for Adolescents).
  • Get students to develop and jot down strategies for addressing any confusion, sections that trouble them, and dealing with stressors in a personalized and colorful test prep playbook. Find examples of test prep playbooks here.
    • Include ideas, such as get a good night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, and believing in themselves.
    • Help students come up with strategies for when they don’t know the answers, don’t understand the question or instructions, are running out of time, get tired, lose focus, or are unmotivated to continue. Strategies in their playbooks might include doodling, stretching, breathing exercises, or give themselves pep talks.
    • Familiarize them with Growth Mindset Strategies. Class Dojo has excellent short animated videos to help students develop confidence with Growth Mindset.
  • Help them deal with the stress with humor! Create memes.
  • Testing in a native language can often help students get higher scores in English. They should of course practice in both languages. Practice tests in different languages can be found at Shmoop.
  • Try test prep stations where students take turns completing different tasks. Find this activity here.
  • Make it interesting! Take a look at this amazing Pinterest board with fun ways to prepare for tests.
  • Assess with the same scoring guide as the tests so students are familiar with the scoring system.
  • Quizlet (iOS/Android/Web) is a great study tool for learning vocabulary with digital flashcards and games to help learners with vocabulary common in various types of exams.
  • Also check out Scholastic’s Standardized Test Prep Lesson Plans full of ideas.

Challenge: Try one of these testing strategies this year to prepare students.

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at

One comment

  1. i had mouch estress when i had exam and test . i remeber that moments and i dont wish happen again …
    excusme for my english
    god luck

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