Final Push to Finals: Test Taking Strategies

PencilYou spent the whole semester teaching content. From commas to compositions, your students have the skills, but do they have the skills to successfully navigate your final exam?

I’ve found it difficult to balance the need to teach students content with the need to teach students how to demonstrate they know the content. Assessment is a reality of life; from state tests to college entrance exams, students will face tests throughout their lives. All this to say, teaching students explicitly how to successful navigate a test is critical to their success.

Top 5 Test-Taking Skills to Teach Before Finals

  1. slide1Preview the Test: Spend a couple minute previewing the test before starting to get a sense of the question types, length, and difficulty
  2. Annotate Passages: Write a gist of the main idea next for each paragraph or the entire passage depending on the length and task associated with the passage
  3. Circle Key Terms in the Question: Teach students to circle key words that help students identify what they are/aren’t looking for; this helps avoid selecting distractors that are unrelated to the question
  4. Eliminate Distractors Before Selecting an Answer: Teach students to eliminate answers before selecting the correct one. It’s also important to teach students the different types of distractors.
  5. Budget Time: Do you have students who perpetually run out of time on tests? Teaching them to budget time is a skill that has to be built. Help students build the habit of skipping and coming back to tough questions.

Learning test-taking skills require lessons of their own. Students need strategies, resources to reference, and practice. Remember, this is not a natural skill. It takes time, explicit instruction, and lots of practice. The Test Taking Strategies Anchor Chart in my TPT store is a great place to start in teaching your students test-taking skills.


A Christmas Carol: TNReady/ Common Core Aligned Lessons

A Christmas Carol PhotoOnly 3 weeks of instruction left until Christmas! In these final weeks, I’ve relied on A Christmas Carol to review and teach foundational literacy skills as a final review before exams. The text allows teachers to both build historical context around the Industrial Revolution and a complex text to analyze characters, language, structure, and theme, to name a few.


Middle School Writer PinterestI’ve highlighted two of my favorite lessons that make use of A Christmas Carol below. These lessons are aligned to Reading Literature and Writing Standards; they are scaffolded and rely on a catch and release model to help students master literacy content. There are even more lessons aligned to A Christmas Carol available on my Pinterest; visit by clicking the picture to the left.

Dynamic Character Development in A Christmas Carol
This lesson starts with a Do Now reviewing how to correctly include evidence in written response. The lesson provides a scaffolded approach to defining dynamic characters and analyzing them over the course of a text. This lesson requires the close reading of short excerpts from the play, which reinforces another foundational reading skill in TNReady/ Common Core.

Dynamic Character Development in A Christmas Carol


Get the Lesson Here
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Understanding Theme in A Christmas Carol
This lesson builds historical context around the setting of A Christmas Carol. Students view primary and secondary sources (embedded in this PPT) and respond in writing to prompts throughout the lesson. This lesson addresses Reading Literature and Writing Standards for TNReady and Common Core.

Theme in Christmas Carol TPT Products.jpg

Get the Lesson Here
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