Standardized Testing: 3 Easy Strategies to Raise your Students’ Spirits

Testing season got you down? Betsy Potash has some great ideas to keep you and your students motivated!


As the testing season approaches, teachers face an uphill battle against the monotony and judgmental nature of standardized testing. What student feels inspired to try her best when faced with a pile of photocopied test papers? Testing provides no real audience for student creativity, no real motivation for hard work, no particular scope for engagement. Students who enjoy the feeling of nailing a test may be able to do their best, but for so many students it is just a painful exercise in suffering through.


Luckily, creative teachers can help students approach this difficult season at school with a happier mindset. Here are three strategies to help you raise your students’ spirits at testing time. Use one or use them all!


#1 Theme Song

Who doesn’t love a good theme song? Every team has its warm-up mix, every movie has its soaring overture, every podcast has its musical sound bite. Choosing a fun theme song to play for your students as they get ready for testing day gives them a chance to feel pumped up for success. Play the song during review games, as students walk in for class before practice tests, as they head out the door the night before the big day. Play it LOUD on the morning of test day!



#2 Test-Taking Kits

Creating a little kit for each student for test day is a fun way to boost their spirits as they begin work. Who wouldn’t rather do a test with a funny themed number two pencil in their hand and a sucking candy in their mouth? Consider including a little note in each kit (just create a sheet of them to photocopy and cut out) wishing your students luck and letting them know why you hope they’ll do their best. Besides candy or gum and a pencil, you could include wristbands, funny cartoons, anything you think would give your students a little boost coming into the test.


#3 Prep Games

As you approach the test, find a way to make review time fun. Use a gaming tool like Kahoot to create engaging games you can play for the first ten minutes of class (and don’t forget to play your theme song as you begin!).  Or create jeopardy categories on the whiteboard and assign students the task of writing review questions at various point levels. Play for a little while every day. Make it something to look forward to. Any way you can associate some fun and joy with testing is a win!


Most students will barely remember the days they spend taking standardized testing. But they may remember your smile as you blasted Max Morgan’s “Ya Better Believe” and handed them their test kit as they walked though the door. They may remember the ultra-competitive rounds of Kahoot they played in class or the hilarious Jeopardy categories they looked forward to revisiting every day. They may remember, it really wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.


As teachers, we can’t control the test, but we can influence the way our students approach it. And ya better believe, it will make a difference!


Betsy Potash is an educator, curriculum designer and writer. Find her online through her blog, Spark Creativity, or join forces with her on Facebook through her new group, Creative High School English.

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