Looking for test review games to get your students in testing-mode for those dreaded standardized tests?
As a core content elementary teacher, standardized tests are a pain.
An anxiety-inducing pain in the butt.
While in theory standardized tests have good intent, the reality of their consequences make for a long rant-of-a-blog post.
But none of that today!
We just have to make do, right?
Like it or not, standardized tests are a mainstay in public education, and we’ve got to get students ready to tackle them head on.
Why Do We Need Test Review Games Anyway?
All of the teaching that you’ve done throughout the school year is good enough.
Yep, I’m sure it is.
You’re an amazing teacher who has done wonderfully with teaching your kids all of the concepts to be tested.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably even done spiraling, as it’s one of the best ways to have students master a concept.
But that’s be honest here.
As adults, we’ve all taken tests, either for college entrance or job certification. We studied hard for those exams even though we spent a lot of time in a classroom preparing for them.
Standardized tests for elementary students are really no different.
You do a great job teaching all year but still feel it necessary to do some review.
At least for those kids who are forgetful, struggle academically, or just need a refresher.
And a little test prep review never hurt anyone, right?
The Best Test Review Games & Activities Rounded Up
There are so many test review games and activities online!
Wouldn’t it be nice to have some of the best test review game resources in one place?
That’s what I’ve done for you.
You’re short on time as it is, and you need test review games and activities at your fingertips.
I’ve put all of the best test review games and activities in one list. Bookmark this page and share it with colleagues!
I chose these test review games and activities based on the following criteria:
- Potential of high student engagement.
- Conducive to higher-order thinking and not simply recall.
- Relatively easy prep.
- Allows for an element of fun!
Plus I wanted to only include activities and games that don’t mirror normal, everyday teaching activities.
Test prep review time doesn’t have to be a bore nor a chore for kids!
1. Dunk It!
This is my all-time favorite test review game, and kids LOVE it because they get to throw paper!
Here’s how Dunk It! plays.
First, divide students into two or three teams.
Each of the teams stand in a separate, straight line (or somewhat straight line). Groups parallel one another, with all students facing the same direction.
About 10 to 15 feet (or whatever distance you want students to throw from) ahead of the first student in each line, place a basket. It represents a hoop.
Go ahead and gather about 4 or 5 crumpled pieces of paper (Discarded 8.5 x 11 inch pieces of paper balled up.)
The first person in line on each team gets a “ball”.
Now you ask a review question from any subject that you’d like to review for test prep.
You’re able to differentiate the difficulty levels of each question.
Though this is a fun game with kids moving around, I’ll actually have them explaining their work on clipboards or whiteboards with their team members while standing.
It’s not a bore (or chore) for the kids to do this because the anticipation of throwing and dunking is super high! The adrenaline runs wild!
So, continuing on with the test review game Dunk It!…
The first students in each line answer.
Note which student is the quickest to answer, with the appropriate answer.
Now here is where Dunk It! really gets fun and interesting for kids!
Each child who answered will throw the “ball” once, but the one who answered the quickest (and also correctly) gets two chances to dunk the “ball”!
So what makes Dunk It! fun plus engaging is that even the kids who didn’t answer the fastest get to throw!
This alleviates a lot of frustration and negative pressure on the kids’ part when it comes to how they respond to each other as team members.
What’s so great about this test review game is that you really never know who’s going to win.
Even though the team who answered fast and correct has two chances to dunk the “ball”, the thrower may not get the “ball” into the basket.
Points accumulate based on how many “balls” actually make it into each team’s basket. I usually make each “dunk” 10 or 15 points.
Quick tip: Have kids practice mental math by having them keep track of their team points without writing anything down.
Caution: Dunk It! Gets Crā-Crā!
This game gets really juicy!
I’m warning you.
The kids get LOUD and CRAZY (in a good way!).
You may want to play this test review game outdoors since neighboring teachers could get annoyed or distracted.
Give the Dunk It! test review game a try!
This is one of the most fun and engaging test prep review games.
Kids get a good review without all of the stress.
2. Stinky Feet
If you’re looking for another high energy, engaging test review game with minimal preparation, look no further than Stinky Feet.
The game is pretty simple to play but has a big impact.
Plus students get to work in groups!
What I like most about this game is that “winning” can be the team with the most or the least amount of points. You decide and set up the game to go either way.
Get all the playing details for the test review game Stinky Feet over at Teaching in the Fast Lane.
And for a digital version of Stinky Feet, go here.
Jeopardy is a classic and an all-time favorite test review game. Additionally, it’s quite easy to set up if you use the online Jeopardy templates.
Simply choose categories based on topics within a subject area that you want to review with students.
I like for the higher-numbered Jeopardy items to be really challenging (as they should be) which require teams to show their work in a readers’ or math notebook.
Jeopardy as a test review game never gets old!
4. Beach Ball Comprehension
For this test review game, take a reading comprehension beach ball with open-ended comprehension questions or sentence stems written on it.
Nowadays, these comprehension beach balls are very hard to find for purchase, so you’re better off making your own with just a plan ‘ole beach ball.
These comprehension beach balls are not only practical for a test review game, but they are useful throughout the entire school year. You can make fiction and nonfiction question stem versions.
After you have your beach ball, take a grade-appropriate (yet somewhat challenging) short or medium length reading text.
Place it on a projector for the class to read as a whole.
Afterwards, throw the ball to a student.
The student then has to answer the question stem from the beach ball on which her right thumb landed. She bases her answer from the text just read.
After responding (and a class discussion of why that’s the correct answer), that student then throws the ball to another student who then answers another question/sentence stem from the beach ball.
To make this test review game a little more fun, have students sit on top of their desks.
This is a simple test review game that easily integrates high-order thinking skills with engagement plus fun!
5. Personal White Boards
Those small rectangular white boards are really great for reviewing a variety of concepts, and kids really love them.
There’s something about writing with a dry-erase marker and then erasing that fills kids with delighted. I think that’s the attraction and secret of using whiteboards for test review games!
Add to that, mini whiteboards are so versatile, and you as the teacher are able to differentiate the various tasks that students complete using them.
That’s an all-around win!
While test prep review can get monotonous (even when you try to make it fun), simply adding a white board to the mix does wonders for kids’ engagement.
They complete “boring” word problems or reading comprehension questions without feeling like “Here we go again reviewing test prep strategies for the umpteenth time!”
What I usually do is put kids in small teams composed of various academic levels.
Then I ask a question that requires them to explain their thinking and/or show their work using the whiteboard. Children work as a team to answer the question, and any team with the correct answer receives a point.
The group with the most points at the end of the activity gets bragging rights (in a nice way, of course). Using a point-system is optional however.
Another way to use mini whiteboards is to display a question on the document camera or projector.
Give students time to complete responses on their individual whiteboards.
On the count of three (or any other signal), students turn their boards over to face you, showing their answers. Make a rule that allows no writing after boards are shown.
Students erase their work, and you present the next question.
See mini white boards in action!
This easy test review game is engaging and provides you with a quick informal assessment.
6. Reciprocal teaching
The reciprocal teaching strategy sounds kind of boring, but it’s super effective and engaging if done well.
Reciprocal teaching is an instructional strategy where the students take on the role of teacher.
Kids adore this instructional technique because well, what kid doesn’t love “playing school” while being the teacher?
Reciprocal teaching is based on the four strategies of summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting.
Though it’s original form is more traditional than my teaching style, for test prep review purposes…
Use this instructional technique simply to have students teach their peers a skill or strategy. They love it!
When standardized testing times comes around, students will have had ample opportunities to watch the teacher throughout the school year modeling a variety of different strategies.
When using reciprocal teaching as a test review game, put students in groups of 3 or 4.
Assign each student in the group a skill or strategy. When it is her turn, each student teaches her skill or strategy to the group.
I let the “teachers” use a whiteboard to teach and explain the concept. After about 10 to 15 minutes, the students rotate until everyone has gotten a chance to be teacher.
What I love about reciprocal teaching is that it can easily be used with any subject.
Though reciprocal teaching is not a test review game per se, it is a fantastic test review activity that keeps kids engaged and working collaboratively.
7. Anchor Charts
Want to give reciprocal teaching a little twist?
Have each “teacher” create an anchor chart with his peers based on the skill/strategy you provided.
No chart needs to be fancy.
Students demonstrate what they have learned about a specific skill, and artistry of the anchor chart isn’t important.
Throughout the school year, you’ve probably created tons of anchor charts with your students.
So with standardized testing around the corner, they already know what are anchor charts and how to create them.
Anchor charts as a test review game is really fun for kids.
All you need is to give each student a piece of chart paper or poster board and markers.
Let the teaching begin!
8. Task Cards
Task cards turn a boring worksheet into an interactive activity, but using them as a test review game could sending students moaning!
They’ve seen task cards all year… in learning centers, as early finishers work, as small group activities, etc.
So spice things up a bit!
Over at Minds in Bloom, task cards are turned into a test review game using Quiz Quiz Trade.
Do check it out!
9. Gallery Walk
Gallery Walk is another great test review “game” that gets kids moving, working collaboratively, and thinking critically.
The website Teaching to Inspire does a fantastic job of explaining the effectiveness of Gallery Walk for test prep.
You can also get an overview of the instructional technique in the video below.
10. Inside Outside Circles
Here’s how Inside Outside Circles work for test prep…
First, give each individual student a concept to address. Maybe it’s sequencing, context clues, steps to math problem solving, etc.
Each child should have a unique topic.
Now, assign every child a number, either 1 or 2. Ideally, there should be an equal number of each.
All the 1s form a group, and all the 2s form a group.
Each group forms a circle, with the 1s circle inside of the 2s circle. The inner circle faces outward, and the outer circle faces inward.
Every kid should face another student, directly in front of each other.
At your signal, the inner kids discuss their topic to the child in front of them while the other child listens.
After another signal about a minute later, the outer circle partner speaks while the other listens.
After about a minute, you give a signal for the inner or outer circle to rotate to the right (only one circle needs to rotate).
With the new partner, students repeat the process.
NOTE: To make this strategy more effective for kids, have the listening partner provided feedback to the one speaking. Was the child’s description or example of her topic accurate? How could she have explained more clearly or would could be added to the topic?
This way, as the kids rotate, each child’s discussion about his topic becomes more detailed and in-depth based on the feedback received from each previous partner.
This test prep strategy works really well with upper elementary students.
14. Prove It!
Prove IT is one of those test prep games/strategies that never gets old. It just works, and keeps love it!
This post on the Prove It reading strategy tells you everything you need to know.
The Graffiti test prep game promotes critical thinking, builds movement, and has students summarize their learning.
Here’s how Graffiti works for test prep…
Take 4 to 5 pieces of large chart paper.
Write one word problem or short reading passage at the very top of each one. (For the reading passage, you may want to just attach a short story for time-saving reasons).
Leave plenty of space below for students to show work.
Now, give a piece of chart paper to a small group of no more than 4 students. Ideally, you’ll have 5 or so small groups composed of 3 or 4 students.
The number of charts you need coincide with the number of groups.
Each table answers the question or problem presented on the chart paper. The may use words, visuals, graphs, etc.- whatever they need – to explain the group members’ thinking process.
After some time, the teacher says, “Rotate”.
The charts move from table to table until all groups have completed each task on the chart paper.
Check out the details of how this test prep strategy actually looks in the classroom here.
A teacher friend shared this fun test prep game with me!
Here’s my version of Headbands…
Put students in groups of 3 or 4.
One student will gently place a sticky note with an important concept written on it on his forehead.
That chosen student shouldn’t see the word written on the post-it.
The other members of the group then give the students clues so that she can figure out what is the word.
For example, if the word is “context clues”, some of the clues the other kids could say include…
- hints to help you figure out new vocabulary
- can be pictures
- synonyms or antonyms
- surround a word
After the student with the sticky-note on her head guesses the word, it’s another child’s turn.
Continue until everyone has had a turn.
The test prep game is low prep, fun, and really gets kids thinking!
More Ways to Do Test Prep
As you know, test prep begins at the beginning of the school year and continues throughout the year with good daily instruction along with strategic planning.
To effectively and easily implement test prep instructional strategies throughout the school year, check out this post on secrets to improving reading standardized test scores.
Happy testing to you and your little pumpkins!