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Test-Taking Strategies

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After I published yesterday’s post titled Testing Time, I received several requests for the test-taking strategies I share with my students.

First, of course, I ask them to share what they think works for them. These are the ones I make sure we cover — even if they don’t suggest them (please share additional suggestions in the comments section):

Test-taking Tips

Ø Read each question carefully and more than once

Ø Read the questions before you read the longer text

Ø Underline important words in the text as you read

Ø Do easy questions first

Ø Skip the hard questions and come back to them later (put a mark in your test booklet next to the ones you skip)

Ø Eliminate wrong answers and make your best guess

Ø Trust yourself, your first guess is usually the best

Ø If you do want to change an answer, be sure to erase the first one completely

Ø Use your reading strategies-you’ve been practicing them all year!

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

2 Comments

  1. DEFINE EASY.

    TEACHERS GO CRAZY WHEN KIDS MISS THE QUESTIONS THAT HAVE “ANSWERS “RIGHT IN THE STORY”. SO, AFTER WEEKS OF TEDIOUS STRATEGY LESSONS, I DECIDED TO HAVE THEM LOOK AT THE QUESTIONS IN ANOTHER WAY.

    FIRST, WE HAD TO IDENTIFY ALL THE QUESTIONS WHERE THE ANSWERS WERE RIGHT IN THE STORY. AFTER A BIT OF MODELING AND GUIDED PRACTICE, STUDENTS WERE SOON ABLE TO IDENTIFY MOST OF THEM. WE MADE A TEST OF IT —IDENTIFY ALL THE RITS QUESTIONS. THIS EXERCIZE, BESIDES CHANGING IT UP A BIT,
    MADE THEM REALIZE THAT OUT OF 28 QUESTIONS, 14 HAD ANSWERS THAT WERE RIGHT IN THE STORY (MORE INCENTIVE TO PICK UP THOSE EXTRA POINTS). THEY ENJOYED BEING ABLE TO IDENTIFY THEM TOO.

    ON THE NEXT PRACTICE TEST, THEY GOT TWO SCORES. THE FIRST SCORE WAS ONLY FOR “RITS” QUESTIONS. THEN, WE GRADED THE WHOLE PRACTICE TEST.

    I ASKED THEM TO GIVE ME THEIR RITS SCORE AND THEIR WHOLE SCORE. THE POORER READERS WERE ENCOURAGED BY THEIR ABILITY TO SCORE HIGHER ON THESE QUESTIONS. I ALSO GOT SOME INSIGHTS INTO WHY EVEN THE BETTER READERS GOT THESE WRONG.

    ONE REASON WAS UNKNOWN WORDS. IN A HUMMINGBIRD ARTICLE, THE STUDENT DID NOT KNOW WHAT THE WORD “WHIR” MEANT THE VIBRATION OF THE WING AND MISTOOK IT FOR SOMETHING TO DO WITH FEATHERS. ANOTHER STUDENTS MADE A MISTAKE BY OVERTHINKING.

    ANYWAY, IT WAS A FRUITFUL EXERCISE AND I WILL USE IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR.

    IF YOU DECIDE TO USE THIS IDEA IN ONE OF YOUR BOOKS, PLEASE DROP ME A LINE. I WILL BE GLAD TO GIVE YOU MORE ANECTODAL STORIES.

    MARIE

  2. I have learned from my many years of standardized state tests that it is best on the ELA tests to identify which type of question they are. The five categories that most state test questions fall into are:1. Evaluating Details 2. Main Idea/Theme 3. Text Structure 4. Authors Purpose/Perspective 5. Vocabulary. The questions that most kids my age tend to struggle on are the text structure and evaluating details. But, if you push them and make them realize how those nasty and deceiving test-makers think then you are on your way to high scores. My teacher would give us articles from past state tests and make us answer questions about it. He also taught us that there are many different kinds of passages on the tests. Such as recipes, non-fiction articles, excerpts from novels, job applications and more commonly poems. Everyday for at least 3 weeks before the test he would give us a new type of passage, new questions and make us code and answer them. I ended up getting all of the questions right for the last 9 days he gave us the passages and questions. Also, there was a HUMONGOUS difference in my score from the year my teacher used that method and the year that my teacher barely focused on how to answer the questions. Also, every year my teacher that actually used a method his students got way higher scores than any other class in that grade. It is effective and it really does help, Im trying not to sound like a face-lift or proactive infomercial, but its kinda hard, sorry. But if i ever fulfill my dream of being a teacher i will CERTAINLY use this method.

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