I love and hate test prep. Actually, I think I just hate test prep. No one ever went to college because they wanted to help students answer multiple choice questions. Yet it remains an important part of school. It is a necessary evil, so I decided a long time ago that I better make the most of it. Check out these tips for reading test prep in middle school!
We have a released test that I use every year to help prepare the kids. I have them work on one passage at a time. They are not allowed to work ahead. I want them to get used to taking their time. I will explain later in this post that I allow students to collaborate when we are reviewing for the EOG, but I don’t let students answer the questions together. I want students to think about the questions themselves. Once everyone has read the passage and answered the questions, we will review the answers as a class in a variety of different ways.
Targeted Reading Test Prep Practice
I really like giving my students targeted practice with certain skills, especially skills that they will see again and again on tests. I had a hard time finding passages and multiple choice questions that focus on a specific skill since most practice passages assess a variety of skills. That’s why I created these standards-based reading passages. They are perfect for middle school reading test prep. They include a short passage for guided practice and two longer ones with rigorous multiple choice questions that focus only on one skill!
We are one to one this year with iPads, but I’ve used Plickers for several years to go over the answers to the multiple choice questions. They are great because they are quick and easy, and students know their answers can be anonymous. I always freeze the screen before I show the final results because some students will change their answers if they see that more people have chosen a different answer. I love using this because it lets me know which questions and standards students will need more help with.
Again, I only use Kahoot once students have already answered the questions because Kahoot incentivizes quickness and that is that last thing I want during testing. Students enjoy Kahoot and it allows me to have quick data to see how well students did.
For at least one passage, I will group students together. I make them debate the correct answer and then come up with an explanation for why they chose that answer. Then, I will “randomly” call on groups to answer and question and explain their reasoning. It isn’t very random, though. I am not in the business of putting students on the spot to humiliate them, so I will make sure I know a group got a question right and has a strong explanation before I call on them.
Middle school reading test prep isn’t fun and can often be stressful. I remember how panicked I felt my first year teaching Language Arts. I felt like I had to cram so much information into such a short time span. It has gotten easier for me since then. One thing that I’ve found particularly helpful is exposing students to multiple choice questions that are similar to what they see at the end of the year on a regular basis. My Daily Reading Comprehension Passages & Questions Bundle provides engaging resources that help students practice important skills.
Our state testing takes places during the last ten days of the school year, so once you’re done with testing, make sure you check out my ideas for the end of the year!