Why You Should Assign Practice Tests
Students who complete four practice tests typically show 30 percent more score improvement than those students who do not complete any practice tests. Students achieve this level of improvement because practice tests:
- reinforce test content;
- help students become more comfortable with time restrictions and pacing;
- reduce test anxiety through test familiarity; and
- give students the chance to practice alternative test-taking strategies.
The practice tests are included in your students’ material. Their book also includes an answer key (and most programs include test explanations) in an appendix. Most practice tests are NOT reprinted in your teacher’s guide.
Depending on your course format, you may work through parts of the practice tests in class or assign them as homework. You should only assign the items that correspond to the subject area that you are teaching at that time. Assign the appropriate sections with time restrictions.
Another way to utilize the practice tests is to break them into smaller sections based on the content of the items. Using the practice tests as an “item bank” allows you to certify student improvement in a particular area and make sure that students are on the right track. You can do these exercises either in class or as homework and either timed or untimed. A mix of untimed and timed items is most helpful for students because it allows them to first practice these concepts at their own pace and then practice at the pace required for the real test.
Before you assign your first practice test, be sure that you know:
• How much time you have to administer and review the practice tests, and
• Which concepts will be the most challenging for your students.
Review your lessons, notes, and progress reports up to this point in the course so that you are prepared to review the test mechanics, concepts, and strategies that are challenging for your students at a more comprehensive level.
If you think your students would benefit from reduced pressure while completing the first practice test, assign your first test without time restrictions. By taking this approach, you allow your students to gradually develop their test-taking skills. By then assigning a practice test with time restrictions, you push students to pace themselves as they would on the actual test, helping to reduce their anxiety about time constraints.
Unlike the material presented in the lessons, the practice tests are intended to be an extended exercise. Therefore, when using the practice tests as material in class, do not cover one item at a time. Rather, work through an entire test section so that your students become more familiar with the structure of the complete test. When reviewing practice test material, allow for at least the same amount of time that it would take to administer a complete test or test section.
Cambridge offers scoring for certain practice tests. If you wish to submit Scantrons for scoring, call your Cambridge customer service representative (847-299-2930).
If you would like to score the tests yourself, use the answer key provided in your student text appendix. The appendix does not include a scoring guide, but you can compare your students’ raw scores (number correct in each section) to their pre-tests.