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March 31, 2015

Test Prep: Keeping Students Motivated

Written By: Brandi Jordan
Category: The School Year
X Test Prep Strategies for Kids

Test Prep Strategies for Kids

It does not matter how much review you do, if your students are not invested in the testing they are about to do, they will not perform well.  Motivating your students is just as important as that last minute division review or vocabulary discussion.  In fact, nurturing a student’s motivation may be more important than anything else you do to prepare.

Think about your own performance when you are motivated versus when you are not.  Being invested in what you are doing makes you work harder, focus more and gives you the desire to excel.  If you are not interested in what you are doing, you tend to pay less interest and do enough to simply get by.  The same is true for your students.


Test Prep Motivation Strategies

We asked teachers how they keep their students motivated and the most interesting idea we received was from Tina C. in Kent, WA.  Read below to find out how her elementary school takes motivating students seriously.  You may want to approach your school’s staff and faculty to do the same thing.

“We do state testing [in grades] 3-6 for our elementary.  Preparing is A HUGE thing that goes on in the building.

All of our teachers wear a t-shirt that says, “Everyday is training day.” We have been wearing these shirts the last Friday of every month.  [The] principal does an assembly about training as if we are training for the Olympics or the Tour de France. He shows YouTube videos and the kids read them out loud as they are played. He has even copied the idea with a video from kids from our school and what they are doing to be prepared for testing.

During the starting week of [state testing], which we call the Brain Olympics, all kids in grades 3-6 are fed breakfast in our multi-purpose room.  [During breakfast] the K-2 students perform songs of encouragement and poems to let them know how proud they are and that they know that our 3-6 graders can do it!

Each 3-6 grade class has made a banner to represent their class [that is filled] with encouraging words.  Once breakfast is over, each class walks around the school holding their banners as the K-2 kids stand outside their rooms and cheer.  It is like a parade around the school.  All of that is just for the start of when the testing window is open!

Our principal provides water and snacks for the week of testing.  The younger students have a buddy room where they make encouraging signs for their walls, since we have to take down or cover the posters on the walls.

We train every day for the test.  We do sample problems, we encourage and and we state our school pledge:

“I will act in such a way that I can be proud of myself and others will be proud of me too. I came to school to learn and I will learn.  I will have a great day.”


Our younger kids beg to take the state test, because they want to show how smart they are too!”

Whether it is with class or school t-shirts, encouraging messages everyday, or a pep rally to get students excited, keeping students motivated during testing time is important.  What does your school do to keep your students interested and involved in testing?  Share your ideas and experiences with us below!



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  • Linda Sanchini
    February 5, 2012

    So glad I read this article, I needed ideas on how to motivate for the test – our school has had the breakfast ideas and this year we are adding Power Up Snacks but I really like the t-shirt idea and will have my class make banners to hang in the classroom. Couldn’t have read this at a better time!

  • Kristal
    March 21, 2011

    In my school, lower grades make poster and paste them all around campus and the choir sings songs to encourage them to their best during the monthly assembly. I also believe that motivation is a key factor in students to succeed. I was happy to see the upper grades so happy after listening to the songs 🙂

  • Barb J
    March 20, 2011

    I’m in a fairly large school, so these ideas probably wouldn’t work for our school. However, motivation is a huge part of testing! Calling it the “Brain Olympics” would definitely help our students!

  • Sarah C
    March 20, 2011

    I love this idea! The 3-6 Kids will not only feel special that the teachers and staff are taking their time to help them out, but they will probably feel really special with the K-2 students helping out as well! They are the role models for the younger students!

  • Kelly
    March 19, 2011

    When our 3rd graders get ready to take their assessments, each classroom is “adopted” by several other classes. Daily we do something special for them-make an encouraging card, go and do a cheer for them, special goodies, etc. They love it and I like it because it helps bring the school closer during this pressure packed week!

  • Karen Greenberg
    March 18, 2011

    Wow, I love the idea of a breakfast and parade to get the students excited to take the test. What a great way to motivate children!

  • Kimberly Collatos
    March 17, 2011

    I agree that motivation is a major part of success in testing. I really like the idea of providing breakfast for the students. Many students do not eat breakfast due to time constraints and other reasons. I think that is great idea. I also like having a success rally. I think that my favorite part of this idea is to include the younger grades. I teach first grade and I think it is great for the kids to see how much “Fun” it can be. I think it is great to plant the seed as young as possible.

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