Take the Test: Teaching Tricks to Testing

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SWBAT write notes, practice tricks, and apply strategies to taking tests.

Big Idea

What a better way to learn and practice test taking skills then on an actual test. This lesson uses a test students were going to take in history. I will model good test taking, they will practice with multiple choice, short answer, and reading passages.


2 minutes

We have finished a chapter in history and it is time to take the end of the chapter assessment. We are fortunate to have a new Arizona History text that allows for you to choose what to add to your test. It comes with multiple choice, short answer, reading passage and questions, essay, and some other performance type assessment. 

The test I put together is multiple choice (8 questions), short answer, reading a map with questions, and the performance piece. The performance piece was a graphic organizer. 

To start I tell my students that they are going to take the test. We have a shout back when I say it's time for a test. The class shouts back to me, "Bring it On!" I then ask if anyone is worried about the test and why. I then explain that we are going to do something different with this test. I bring my voice to whisper, as if I am telling them a secret. I tell the class that I am going to do the whole test with them and teach them tricks to taking a test like this one. All I need them to do is take a few notes and try hard. 

Applications and Strategies Taught

20 minutes

I start with going over the multiple choice section. I ask the class to tell me how they normally answer these types of questions. I then ask them to try and figure out why there are usually four choices. They come to a determination that if there are only two choices then it would be easier to get the right answer even if it was by guessing. 

This is where I ask them to take notes on the bottom of the page that relates to multiple choice. We write that getting to two choices would be best. I then blow their minds by telling them that the secret is to not look for the right answer first but read them all and then find the one obvious wrong answer and any other wrong answers. I write on the board for their notes: 1. read carefully 2. read all  your choices 3. Find the really wrong answer 4. Find any other wrong answers.

With the short answer section of the text I explain that a short answer is not usually one word only answer. That a good short answer is put into a sentence and can even include evidence. We then work through the short answer portion practicing short sentences that contain the right answer. 

To help them understand a reading passage section of a test I want them to understand that good careful reading is important. I ask the class what speed or gear they would read this passage in. They explain that a 1 is best because it is a test and the slower and more careful can help your understanding. We talk about careful reading and careful rereading. 

When answering the questions that go with passage I remind them to use their short answer sentences or their multiple choice strategies. The key is modeling the rereading with the answering of questions.


Walking Away with a Trick

2 minutes

They have completed the test and learned a few new tricks. While I walk around and collect tests, I ask them to share with me something they learned and can use. I continue the discussion as I collect and try to get feedback almost everyone.