10 Tips So Students Won’t Sweat the Test

Before you know it, your students will soon be penciling in their answers on the big state standardized test. Make sure your students are ready and relaxed to take on their writing test with these top 10 tips from WritingCity!

  1. Help students manage their time. Leading up to the test, give students an allotted time to complete assignments and give them reminders along the way as to how much time they have remaining.

  2. Use the language from the standards in your daily instruction. Don’t shy away from using “big words” with your students. Expose them to a wide range of terms when preparing writing prompts, e.g., article, excerpt, text, selection, key idea, central idea, and theme. Use words like narrative, explanatory, temporal, and other terms from the standards in your daily teaching so that students do not feel overwhelmed with this vocabulary.

  3. Model and provide practice time to help students understand how to “dissect” a prompt.

  4. Show students several ways that they might plan for a response and encourage them to use what works for them.

  5. Share acronyms to help students remember exactly what they need to do along the way. (RACES: Response, Answer, Cite, Explain, Sum it up; and then CLAWS: Capitalization/Punctuation, Lead/Conclusion, Arrange Ideas in Order, Word Choice, Spelling)

  6. Provide opportunities for writing across the curriculum. Since there is no way to know what the prompts may look like, the more practice the students have responding, the more comfortable they’ll feel.

  7. Use conferencing time to differentiate your instruction. During independent practice, pull individual or small groups of students and deliver mini-lessons on skills specific to their needs.

  8. Hang anchor charts and posters in your classroom and refer to them as often as possible. Even though you’ll need to remove them during the test, your students will be able to visualize them and use them as a guide.

  9. Remind students that this test is just ONE way that they can show what they know. Although it’s important, so is everything else that they do throughout the school day.

  10. Reassure your students that they are ready and prepared. They’ve been writing all year and this is their chance to put it all together. Together, with your students, make a list of all of the writing and grammar skills that they’ve learned and practiced this year. Remind them how much they already know about writing and assure them that this will help them to be successful on “the test”.

Why not get your student’s parents involved in helping them feel ready too? Send home the freebie Fan Mail so parents can write an encouraging note. Ask parents to return the Fan Mail in a sealed envelope and pass it out to your students when the timing is right!