6 Effective Test Review Teaching Strategies That Don’t Take Extra Planning Time!

Before a test, I want to help my students review and hopefully feel more prepared. I want them to really understand the material and what they learned. Over the years I tried different ways of reviewing for tests, and these are my favorite ones that I keep going back to. These strategies are effective for helping my students learn. They are also quick and easy to plan for (assuming I already made the test). I just don’t have time to make Jeopardy. Sorry, not sorry!

Over the course of the year these strategies become some of the many routines in my classroom. They help with my classroom management, and they help me preserve my sanity! Hopefully these ideas are helpful and can save you some valuable time. Just in time for semester finals!

#1 Study Guide

This is my favorite test review strategy to use with high school students. I just make a copy of the actual test and then delete all of the multiple choice answers. Instead of multiple choice, the questions are open-ended. Students need to use their notes and work in their science notebooks to answer the questions. As a class we go over a few of the most missed, or the ones that students struggled with the most during class. Students can add extra notes to the study guide as well as the answers.

I love this strategy because it is really easy for me to prep for, and it is the best preparation and leg up I can give my students for a test. I love this strategy because I don’t have to create an extra quiz or activity. If I’m feeling super duper generous, I allow my students to use their completed study guide on the test. The sigh of relief they let out is so satisfying, and I love seeing students check their thinking with their notes and research.

This study guide is just the test with the multiple choice answers removed. Students do their best but they won’t find out all of the right answers until they take the test.
I think learning goals help me even more than my students! Each lesson is focused on a particular set of skills and knowledge. The test will assess each of the learning goals.
A study guide can be a modified version of the test, or a collection of questions targeted towards the learning goals from the unit.

#2 Gallery Walk

I love a gallery walk because it takes an ordinary worksheet or study guide and turns it into something more fun. I tape questions to the cabinets and countertops around the room. Just like the study guide, students answer questions from the actual test! Before we begin, I point out where some of the questions are and show students how I write the answers on a piece of paper or in my science notebook. Students write their answers as complete sentences. That way they can look back on it later and know what the question was. I also remind them that if they are jumping around the room in no particular order, they need to check the question number at each station and make sure they write their answers in the correct spot. Otherwise, their answers will be all out of order.

I play around all the time with different parameters for a gallery walk test review. Sometimes I want students to work in pairs. Student pairs can move freely and go to different questions as they become available. Or I can give students a few minutes at each station, and everyone rotates to the next question at the same time. It’s definitely more work on my part, but this way helps everyone stay on task the best. If I want a quiet test taking environment, I ask students to do the gallery walk individually. This can reveal what students need to work on before the test on a more individual basis. Teams of 3 can work well. Groups of 4 work great for longer math problems or when they need to show their work. I just create questions for 8 or 9 stations that the groups will rotate through.

I just cut up questions from a review document I made. Then I glued them inside folded pieces of construction paper. It doesn’t need to look like perfection like the stuff on Teachers Pay Teachers. It can be practical and also effective.
The gallery walk is a great way to find out what students know, and give them a stretch break at the same time! Students write their answers in their science notebooks or on a piece of binder paper.
I tape the questions to various cabinets and countertops around the classroom. It helps if there’s a general flow or traffic pattern in the room that students can navigate through.

#3 Notebook Scavenger Hunt

With a Notebook Scavenger Hunt, students use their science notebooks as a resource to locate information and answer questions. Students cite where the information is in their notebook by recording the Science Notebook Page or SNP. It’s cool because it’s like using evidence to support the reasoning of their answers. I love to see my students refer to their Table of Contents, re-read notes, and review past lessons and learning. I can turn a Study Guide into a Notebook Scavenger Hunt just by adding a space for the SNP. It’s actually super easy to turn lots of assignments into a Notebook Scavenger Hunt, I should use them more often!

Another great feature of this strategy is organization. Students are going through their notebooks and if they have blank pages then they know something is missing. Notebook checks and unit tests go hand in hand, so it’s a great way to squeeze in some notebook improvement, organization, and make-up work before they are due. This strategy also works great when I want to give an open note test. The process familiarizes students with the content in their notebooks and where to find information.

I used this strategy a lot when I wrote daily learning goals. I gave students a list of the learning goals, and they found where each one was in their notebook. The learning goals were also what I assessed on the test. It helped a lot that I worked with a really great and experienced science teacher. Her planning, teaching, and curriculum were perfection!
I think this information is super helpful, and I would want it as a student. But overall I think my students feel the most prepared when I give them a study guide with questions.

#4 Group Practice Test

Students take the test in a group and they work together to agree on the answers. If they all pass they get Bonus Points! The Captain reads the question aloud, and the group discusses until they can agree on the answer. The Recorder writes down the group’s final answer. The Timekeeper keeps everyone on task. The Organizer is in charge of getting any supplies needed, coordinating the cleanup, and turning in the test.

This is a good way to review and have students collaborate and practice group roles. I think students are well prepared for the test when they have a chance to work through the problems together and talk through things. I sometimes like to review for the Lab Safety test with this strategy. I tell students to really pay attention and try hard on the Practice Test because some of the questions are very similar to the actual test.

While students are working I walk around and help out, ask questions, and answer questions. I notice which concepts students are confusing. After the group test we review some of the harder questions together and students have time to ask their own questions. The next class period, students take the same test or a similar test individually and for a grade.

#5 Cheat Sheet

A “cheat sheet” or “crib” sheet is one of my all time personal favorite test review strategies. I remember this strategy from when I was a college student taking Chemistry and Physics courses. We could write anything we wanted on a double sided index card. Anything we had written down we could use on the test. I think this strategy reflects the world we live in today. It’s going to be rare in the real world or in a job that you are asked to do something and you can’t use the internet or any outside help at all.

Students write anything they want on the cheat sheet like formulas, examples, facts, vocabulary, notes and pictures. I tell students to write down stuff that is hard for them to remember. Whatever students are writing down they are more likely to review it, read it, and remember it. A cheat sheet can be a half-sheet of paper or a 3.5”x5” index card. It can be single or double-sided. I don’t think it matters what the size is. We play Quizizz or Kahoot to review, and students use the cheat sheets they create in class to help them with the answers.

Cheat Sheet is my personal favorite test review strategy. I’m a visual learner, so writing lots of words and pictures like this helps me learn.
Sometimes when I tell students they can write anything on their cheat sheet to use on the test, they cannot believe me! I called it a “study sheet” this year because my 6th grade students were so offended by the idea of cheating!

#6 Quizizz and Kahoot!

Quizizz and Kahoot aren’t as original as the other test review strategies in this list. But I have to include them because my students just love to play games like these. Most of my students are familiar with Kahoot, but I prefer Quizizz. What I like about it is students read the questions off of their own devices (instead of the projector screen) and they answer the questions at their own pace. They receive feedback on incorrect answers and a summary of their game at the end so they can learn from their mistakes. I can assign a Quizizz in Google Classroom for homework as a test review or extra practice. The data is informative and super easy to assess. In my opinion, I think Quizizz is a better learning tool and Kahoot is better for fun stuff like Disney trivia.

One way I use Kahoot for test review is for students to create the Kahoots. 10 questions, multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank questions, with the correct and incorrect answer choices. Each question must have a related image. I can create a playlist of the Kahoots my students make and we can play them back to back (no wasted time logging in after every round). Overall some of the questions are lower level than something I would create myself for a test review. But my students are learning when they review their notes and create their own questions. It is fun to play and students enjoy when everyone plays the game they made!

I created this worksheet to go along with an in class Kahoot! review. Students record their answers. They make a note of what questions they missed so they can review and prepare for the test.

Good Luck on the Test Review!

I learned these test review strategies over years of teaching. Some of them came from brilliant and experienced teachers I worked with. All the stuff I figure out along the way helps me be a better teacher. The more I learn, the easier it gets, and the more fun teaching is.

What are your favorite test review strategies? What other teacher stories, strategies, and resources you are interested in reading about? Let me know by leaving a comment. I would love to hear from you! Check out the blog posts below to read more about me and my classroom.

Published by How She Teaches

I teach Biology and Earth and Space Science in high school and middle school. I want to share my personal experiences and teaching milestones with anyone who wants to learn.

9 thoughts on “6 Effective Test Review Teaching Strategies That Don’t Take Extra Planning Time!

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