School Counseling Group: Test Preparation

Posted on

School Counseling Group:  Test Preparation - Savvy School CounselorEach school year, as part of my National Model plan, I conduct school counseling group sessions for my third grade friends as we get closer to End-of-Grade (EOG) Testing time.  This year, we met once a week for five weeks, and I really enjoyed this time with them and felt it was beneficial.  During these sessions I’ve used some of my favorite products already mentioned on my blog previously as well as some of my own products.  Today, I am sharing what I did for each of the sessions.

First of all, National Model action plans must be data driven.  Since our students have started taking a Beginning-of-Grade (BOG) Test in September each year, I am able to use those results to create my small groups. This test is a predictor or indicator of sorts as to how students may do on the EOG.   I usually pull students who missed being proficient (Level 3) by one, two or three points.  Once I determine who those students are, I let their teachers know who must be in the group.  Any empty spaces may be filled with students chosen by the teacher.  Our group focus is test taking tips and decreasing test anxiety.

This year I had 31 students. (5 groups)  Once the EOG scores are available, I’ll be able to see my results.  I hope to see those BOG Level 2’s become EOG Level 3’s.

So, here’s an idea of how each of my group sessions went:

Session 1:  When the students arrived for the first session, they completed this “How do you feel about the test today?” sheet.  This is just one of many great resources you can find on The Ned Show website.  It helped start our discussion about test anxiety.  A good number of students circled nervous and concerned.  Of course there were some confident students as well.

Ned1After completing and discussing this sheet, I read Julia Cook’s The Anti-Test Anxiety Society.  Most of my students were excited to know this was the same author of a book I had shared with them in first grade called My Mouth is a Volcano.  We always referred back to the book during our future sessions tying in the “Dynamic Dozen” and using the “Get to” part of your brain instead of the “Have to” part.  This book was a perfect opener for my small groups!

The Anti-Test Anxiety Society by Julia CookAfter reading and discussing the book, the students began working on their test taking foldables.  I had already printed them and cut the flaps for them, so they just needed to get the information written on the front of and under each of the flaps.  They had time to complete and discuss three of the flaps during the first session.  I told them they would do a few flaps each week until it was done.

Session Two:  When the students entered, I had GoNoodle Flow pulled up on my laptop and facing them on the table.  I wrote about GoNoodle Flow last year as a great tool to use for school counseling.  Flow has great brain breaks that tie in well with helping students decrease test anxiety.  I used On & Off with my groups.   On & Off involves managing stress by making parts of the body tense and then letting go to relax.  Students turn on the energy in their toes, legs, hands, arms and whole body.  They really enjoyed doing the brain break.  On & Off is something they can use discreetly anytime they are feeling some stress.

Flow by GoNoode-

We reviewed the things we learned from BB, the main character from The Anti-Test Anxiety Society.

Next, we completed and discussed three more of the flaps on the test taking foldables.

Session Three:  My laptop was on the table when students entered for session three.  They thought they were going to do another brain break, but today it was time for Ned’s Test Prep Rap Song.

This was a fun way to incorporate all of those very important testing tips.  After watching the video, each student got a copy of the Ned’s Top 10 Testing Tips activity sheet.  We reviewed the tips learned in the test prep rap. Students took a few minutes to recall some of the things they heard in the rap.  They also took a moment to do tip #10 which was to plan something fun to look forward to after the EOG Tests.  Some memorable ideas were “just do nothing” and “eat fried chicken.”  They were too funny!

Ned's Top 10 Testing Tips from The Ned Show

We used the rest of the time to complete and discuss the last four flaps of the test taking foldables.

Session Four:  When the students entered the room for this session, they saw a Treasure Chest on the table.  I had them guess how each of the items in the chest related to test taking.  You can read about what was in the chest  in my post A Treasure Chest of Test Taking Tips.  Next, we played Testing SMART Bingo.  Although the students had fun playing Bingo, this gave us a great opportunity to discuss dozens of important tips to remember.

Testing SMART Bingo - Savvy School Counselor

After Bingo, we discussed the final tips pre-printed on the inside of the foldables.  The students were given a few minutes to put any final touches on their foldables.

foldable foldable2









Session Five:  This session was essentially the Big Test.  I wanted to see if they could use all of the tips and strategies we had learned about and discussed during the previous four sessions. I used the book Excite Me! Motivate Me! Test Me! (One of my favorites!!) They entered the room to find a sample scan-tron sheet.  Their first “test” was to see if they could simply follow directions when bubbling.  The test questions said things like “Fill in answer C for #4, #10 and #15.”  Once they finished the test, they were supposed to have items 1-20 completed on the scan-tron.  I would say 95% of my students did this successfully.

scan-tron practice

Next, they took “The Smart Test.”  Many of the test questions had to do with test taking strategies.  I gave them another bubble sheet and the test paper.  I told them they may find something strange, but to just do what they had learned to do.   The strange part:  The test was missing #1.  So they needed to make sure they bubbled beside the correct number or they would become misaligned.  This is something that can easily happen when students are not paying close attention to what they are doing.  During our time together, I always told them to look at the number of the test item and make sure it matched the number on the bubble sheet before they filled in the bubble.  I found that 2-3 of my six students in each group would catch this immediately and skip #1 on the answer sheet.  The others would eventually realize the further along they went, and they had to do some erasing.

practice test2


As the students worked on their tests, I would give stickers as I saw them using the tips we had discussed throughout our time in group.  It was wonderful to see them checking each question and making sure their bubble sheet answers were matching their test papers.

I gave them a final test from Focus on the Test which consisted of random reading and math skills.  Nothing too difficult, just enough to practice the testing tips.

When all tests were finished, we went over and discussed each of the answers.  The students then received all of their completed work from the previous sessions.  I gave each a paper clip and a laminated bookmark with test taking tips.

I enjoyed these group session just as much as I believe the kids did.  Twenty five small group sessions later, I can honestly say I’m looking forward to doing it all again next year!

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  You can also follow my  TpT Store to keep up with my latest products and freebies.  

A Treasure Chest of Test Taking Tips

Posted on

Testing Treasures- A fun way to share simple test taking tips with your students-

While looking through one of my favorite Test Taking resources, Excite Me! Motivate Me! Test Me! by Sandra Robinson, I came across another great idea.  I couldn’t wait to find a treasure chest!  Here’s a fun way to share a few basic test taking tips with your students:

What you’ll need:

  • A treasure chest (I was just about to order one from Oriental Trading before a co-worker had one she didn’t need anymore!)
  • A pencil– This reminds students to have a #2 pencil.
  • A clock– This reminds students to use their time wisely.
  • Cake mix– This reminds students to follow the directions.
  • A pillow– This is to remind the students to get a good night’s rest.
  • Glasses– These remind the students to keep their eyes on their own papers.
  • Checkers– These remind the students to check over their work.
  • Cereal– This reminds the students to eat a good breakfast.
  • A hanger– This reminds the students not to give up – just “hang” in there!

I was able to find just about everything on the list.  I couldn’t find a small enough pillow, so I purchased a small piece of felt and some pillow filling and made it myself by sealing the edges with stitch witchery.  I found a small checkers game and the glasses at the Dollar Tree.  I purchased a variety pack of cereal so the box would be small enough, and I found a small Jiffy Cake Mix.  The hanger came in a set of baby hangers from the Dollar Tree also, and the small clock I found at Walmart.  I grabbed an extra pencil from a drawer, and I was set!

Testing Treasures- A fun way to share simple test taking tips with your students-

I can’t wait to use this as I begin working with my students on test taking tips.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  You can also check out my test preparation products in my TpT store.

Lunch Bunch Anyone?: Preparing for the Test

Posted on

End-of-Grade testing time is just a few weeks away in my state.  One objective of my school counseling program is to assist teachers and students as they get closer to that big week.  My most recent lunch bunch sessions with upper grades have focused on test taking strategies.  A resource I have enjoyed using for a couple of years now is Excite Me!  Motivate Me!  Test Me! by Sandra Robinson.  There are several great activities to pull from this resource.  Because the students are eating lunch, I make sure to pull the activities that center mostly around discussions.  One exception is the card game pictured below. There are 15 cards, and each one has an answer on the top of the card and a question on the bottom of the card.  One of the cards says “start” at the top.  The student with that card reads the first question on the bottom of the card.  The students stay engaged because they may have the answer to the question.  The person with the answer says “I’ve got it,” and reads the answer aloud to the group.  That person will then read the question on the bottom of the same card they just read the answer from.  This goes on and on until the last answer is read. The bottom of that card says “The End.”

I also use another set of cards which helps facilitate a great conversation.  During this conversation, the students are able to make connections to many of the tips and strategies their teachers have already given them. Many of those teachers would be happy to know the students have retained those tips and are able to share them confidently with the group. These are some of the tips I also used on the test taking foldable.

The main message I make sure to give the students before they leave is this:  Do your best, but don’t enter testing time worrying about what will happen if you don’t get the scores you desire. Many students fear they may be retained if they do not pass these tests.  I don’t know about you, but I think those thoughts add an extra level of unnecessary stress to children.  The bottom line is, the tests give just one of the many snapshots of the school year for each of them.  What also matters are quarterly grades throughout the year along with having satisfactory work habits.


Before the students prepare to leave, I give each of them a laminated bookmark to take.  On the bookmark are important things to remember as they prepare for the upcoming tests.  I like that it says to wear comfortable clothes.  I also tell them to layer.  It’s better to have a jacket to put on or take off if necessary.  Being too hot or too cold is definitely a distraction!

I would love to hear from you.  Connect with me!

8 Tips New Test Takers Should Know

Posted on

I was determined to find a new way to review test taking tips with our third graders this school year.  As everyone knows, this is their first year taking the “Big Test.”  In the past, I have worked with third graders in small groups using student data for my ASCA National Model plan.  This year, the teachers requested a testing tips classroom guidance lesson for all of the students.  After looking through one of my favorite testing resources (Excite Me! Motivate Me! Test Me! by Sandra Robinson) along with Tyler Tames the Testing Tiger by Janet Bender, I created this Testing Tips Foldable.

Both resources give many similar test taking tips.  Tyler Tames the Testing Tiger includes ten test prep cards.  I used a few of the test prep suggestions from Tyler Tames the Testing Tiger to create five of the flaps, and I used five of the discussion cards from the back of the Excite Me! Motivate Me! Test Me! book for the other five.  Here’s an explanation of each tip:

  • Be PreparedThis flap is where the students wrote important things to do like getting a good nights rest the night before and having a good breakfast the morning of the test.  They also included having number two pencils .
  • Reframe Your ThinkingSome students don’t believe they can do well on the test.  This flap includes positive self-talk such as  “I can do it” and “I am ready for the test.”
  • Stop, Look, and Listen– This flap reminds the students to be still, look at the test administrator, and listen to the directions.
  • No Fear– Many third graders are nervous about the unknown.  They also fear they will not go to fourth grade if they don’t pass.  As they wrote notes on the back of this flap about not being afraid and doing their best, I told them that these tests are just a small piece of data used to determine whether or not they will go to the next grade.  I also told them it is important to work hard throughout the school year because their quarterly grades are just as important.
  • Plug it In– This flap reminds students to use each of the multiple choice answers to fill in the blank.  Some won’t make sense and will help them narrow their choices down.
  • Jail the Detail– This flap reminds the students to circle or underline the key words in a test question.  They can look for the key words in the reading passage or determine how to solve a math problem by using this tip.
  • Stash the Trash– Many times, there are sentences included in test questions that really aren’t important.  This tip reminds students to cross out any unnecessary information.  This includes answer choices they already know don’t belong. This tip can also be called “Slash” the Trash.
  • Zap the Maps– Students sometimes don’t look closely at keys and legends on standerdized tests.  They will see a chart with four triangles and say the answer is four. However, one triangle equals 3 according to a key near the chart.  This makes the answer twelve.  This tip reminds them to pay attention to the key of a chart, graph, or map.
  • Pace Yourself– Our students are given PLENTY of time to take their tests.  That being said, they need to pace themselves.  This just means not rushing through the test and also watching the time and making sure they are not going too slow as well.
  • Check it out– This last flap reminds students to check over their answers when they have completed the test if there is time left.  If they have a bubble sheet, it’s also good to check it for stray marks.
Inside the foldable is a bulletin board idea from the “Testing Tiger” book (which I made a smaller version of) and four additional helpful tips for students to refer to as well from the Excite Me! book.  I used manila paper, made copies so lines would already be there, and pre-folded them. The students only needed to cut the lines to make each flap, and we were ready to begin.  Although the students were exited to decorate and add some “flavor” to the foldable, our class time focused on content.  They had time near the end to draw and color.









The former teacher in me can’t help but love the idea of using foldables in the classroom.  After I discovered them, I just had to find a way to incorporate a few into my school counseling program.  This is my first attempt, and I was excited to see it all come together. I’ll be sharing another one soon, so come back! I’d love to hear from you regarding test taking activities you’ve used.  Connect with me!

Template on TpTTemplate on TpT- Version 2

Like this idea but not sure how to make it?  No time to purchase the two resources mentioned in this post?  Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store to purchase two versions of my template for just $3.50. All you’ll need to do is choose your 8.5 x 11 paper and copy!  The lines are provided for your students along with my very own tips for the inside!  (Please note- the product in my store can NOT have the same pictures on the inside as the example here on my blog due to copyright.  If you want the comics seen on the original project up top, you will need to purchase the two books mentioned and make the project from scratch with your students.)

Test Taking Scoot is also a fun to review and involves movement.

You may also like this Testing SMART Bingo Game.  It’s available for whole class or groups.  My Test Taking Board Game is also a great test taking tips reviewing tool.

The three products come in a Test Taking Bundle for a 20% savings.

ETA:  So after the fact, I realized I said there were only 8 tips, but low and behold there are 10!  Too late to change the blog title now, or no one will EVER find it! 🙂

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  You can also follow my TpT Store to keep up with my latest products and freebies