Bubbling answers for hours at a time probably wouldn’t rank very highly for most students if you asked them about their favorite pastime. Most of us have come to understand testing as a necessary evil that must be endured in order to prove a student’s knowledge. If you’re finding yourself stuck trying to make knowledge stick in your student’s head before an exam, consider a few of the following strategies:
1) Make the Lesson Relevant – Use examples from the real-world or the news to spice up your review. Are your kids into a new song or really popular actor? Try re-working the lyrics to a popular song into a review of formulas they’ll need to memorize. Or swap out a celebrity for your main character to put a modern spin on your English classics
2) Make it Competitive – Split your class or study group up & try different trivia-based games, like Jeopardy for your English and History reviews. Or try relay races to see who can solve the most math problems the fastest before your time runs out.
3) Turn Prep into a Fun, Focused Group Effort – If you’re nervous about games maybe alienating students who aren’t as prepared as everyone else, use group study time as a way to have everyone teach each other what they know in a different way. Give students a list of concepts & let them pick their favorite to teach their peers. It’ll help them build confidence in their knowledge & can provide an alternative for students with different learning styles who may not be as receptive to their teacher.
4) Give Immediate Feedback – If possible, try digital tools like “Clicker” questions where students can see their responses automatically & find out the correct answer right away. Jeopardy style games can work pretty similarly, giving students the opportunity to quickly choose from options & understand the right answer.
5) Keep the Stress to a Minimum – For many students, battling test-taking anxiety is one the hardest parts of test prep. Try to incorporate different stress-busters into your review, like muscle-stretch breaks and light music. If allowed, peppermints have also been recommended as a great way to calm students before an exam.
In addition to the strategies above, one of General Academic’s top current tutors, Bili Yin, offered some strategies she’s used with her students:
-Do time trials with 10 problems, and if the student gets a certain number right I don’t assign homework
-For vocab, I have come up with fun ridiculous ways to remember words- putting it in funny sentences or ridiculous mnemonic devices based on things I know about the things a student cares about (like a sport, or funny stories they have told me)
-Played a game where they “play me” and we take turns picking problems for each other (they can pick the hardest ones they can find). They get 2 min to solve the problem (I get one), and if you are able to get the other person’s question right you get a point. First to 10 wins.
General Academic’s Upper Level ISEE Instructor and tutor, Rachel Chung, also suggested a few helpful tips she’s tried with her students:
-Using funny analogies/ stories that students can associate with vocabulary (Memrise is great for this)
Do you have any ideas for how to make test prep fun? Feel free to leave any useful strategies you’ve encountered in the comment section!