Engaging students in review and test prep can be stressful for you and your students. You want your students to take the "big" tests seriously but at the same time don't want to put pressure on your students. Test prep and review can be tedious AND stressful but it doesn't have to be. I have some tips for you to make it fun and engaging.


After every test we take, we review the questions either as a whole class or in small groups. No matter where or how we review the test, I offer rewards to students who try their best to see where mistakes were made and finding the right answers. 

image of mini animal erasers to use as "desk pet" rewards

One of our FAVORITE rewards is desk pets. Have you heard of desk pets? They are just mini erasers shaped like animals. My students can "adopt" a new pet if they are engaged and working hard during our review.  We love desk pets in our classroom and they are cheap and easy to find. Here is one of my favorite sets on Amazon  (affiliate link).  You can also offer classroom economy money, Class Dojo points, or whatever you may already use in your classroom.

Task Cards

Task cards are great for so many things!  My favorite ways to use task cards? I have a few:

  • In small groups, I turn them over like a deck of cards. Each student picks one up, reads, solves and writes their answer on a whiteboard or recording sheet.  The student who gets the most cards done in a certain time period wins! But they all win. I reward them all if they tried their best.
  • Scavenger Hunt! Hang the task cards up around the room. Have students find each one and record their answers on a recording sheet. This gets students up and moving and interacting with their classmates.
  • Keep a set of task cards for each standard in a separate 3-pronged folder or small binder. Students who finish assignments early can work on the review task cards. I give extra credit for turning in a completed recording sheet.
  • Scoot! Place a task card on each student's desk.  Give each student a recording sheet. Set a timer and have students read and solve the task card on their desk and when the timer goes off, they "scoot" to the next desk to solve a new one.

My students LOVE to talk!  Yours too?? LOL.  Allowing my students to work with a partner of their choice will always motivate them.  I love to allow partners to work on things I know will be stretching them out of their comfort zone.  My students also know my expectations. If they are told more than twice to get back on task, they have to work independently. Partner practice also allows me to circulate and see how they are doing, give immediate feedback, and remediate if needed.


Games are a great and fun way to get students to practice and review skills. I love to play four corners when we review a test. Each corner in my room is labeled A, B, C, and D.  For each question, students move to the corner of their answer choice and discuss why they chose that answer with other classmates there before I reveal the correct answer choice. Then students discuss why that is the correct answer.  I also like to assign specific digital games to specific students or targeted practice for independent practice or morning work. This is so easy to do through Google Classroom or even via email.

Digital Activities

My students also love any opportunity to practice on the computer. Digital activities with interactive pieces simulated "hands-on" practice and are engaging and fun for students.  Again, it's easy to target specific skills for specific students or groups of students to review and practice what they need to work on.

Test-Taking Strategies

For each test we take throughout the year, I give my students a little quarter-page checklist. My students use the checklist to ensure that they use the best test-taking strategies.  I give my students extra credit for showing evidence of using strategies for EVERY question. I conference with students after every test and go over what they can work on to improve their test scores and having a checklist is very helpful!

As we get closer to the BIG TEST, I step up the rewards. I'll take every completed checklist (and I check to make sure that students showed evidence of completing the steps), fold it, and throw it in a basket. I'll pick out two, three, or four checklists and reward those students with a bigger prize like free computer time, a trip to the treasure box, or a lunch bunch.

Grab your FREE copy of my Test-Taking Checklists with options for Math and ELA by clicking the image below!


And finally? CELEBRATE! After we finish our review and test prep, we have a little pep rally right before the big day! I have my students make motivational signs and posters to hang on the classroom and hallway walls.  My students have worked hard and are ready for the big day. I write a special note to each student and place it on their desk the morning of the big test to make them smile and help reduce any anxiety. I know they're ready to do their best!

Want more tips to reduce test anxiety? Read my blog post HERE.

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my affiliate links, which helps to support my blog. I only recommend products that I love and all ideas shared are my own.

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