Test-Taking Skills/Testing Anxiety Workshops

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As counselors, sometimes we are given tasks that take us away from actually offering counseling services to children. I am lucky in that I do not have many of those tasks; however, this year I was given some standardized testing responsibilities that required time I would normally spend seeing my students. An important tool we can use in cases like this is to advocate for ourselves and our profession. One way that I do this is by showing the appropriate tasks I should have as a school counselor, such as helping students with test-taking skills or anxiety. This is why I created my Test-Taking Skills/Testing Anxiety Workshops.

Weeks before testing begins, I ask all homeroom teachers to send me a list of students who they think would benefit from these small group workshops. I then schedule groups of 6-8 students at a time the week before standardized testing to help them be better prepared.


The Workshop

I begin each workshop with a pre-test, gauging the participants’ feelings of readiness and anxiety.

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We then play test-taking skills bingo and talk about each skill as it is called out. {The students really seem to enjoy this game!} I created this bingo game in Word, and I’m happy to share it for free. All you have to do is ‘like’ The School Counselor Life Facebook page and e-mail theschoolcounselorlife@gmail.com to request the 10 bingo cards I made.


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After the game is over, I hand out a page filled with many of the skills included in the bingo game, as well as strategies the students can use if they need to make an educated guess {in those instances where they have NO clue what the answer is}.


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If students in the group report feeling nervous or anxious about testing in the pre-test questionnaire, the group will talk about coping skills they can use when experiencing testing anxiety. This group discussion seems to help the students feel less alone in their worries and more empowered to try ideas that were shared in the group for coping with anxiety or nerves.

We close out with a post-test, which is the same as the pre-test, with one additional question to assess whether or not the children thought the workshop was helpful.

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Workshop Data Collection

In coming weeks, I will be posting a series all about data collection, so as a spoiler, I will tell you how I use the pre and post-test data for this workshop in my final data report. I start by tallying up the students’ responses for pre and post-tests by grade level {see tests above}. If a student ranked an item as a 1, 2, or 3, I counted that as a ‘no,’ and if he/she ranked an item 4 or 5, I counted it as a ‘yes’. I then turned those numbers into percentages. {i.e. if 3 out of 12 students reported they felt confident in their test-taking abilities on the pre-test, and 11 out of 12 students reported the same thing on the post-test, then I know that only 25% of students in the group felt confident before the workshop, and 92% felt confident after.} If those were the real numbers, that would tell me that the workshop did increase testing confidence in many students.

Here are my actual numbers from this year:

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What is your role in testing at your school? Are you able to utilize your counseling training in ways such as the workshop I just described? Or are you a testing coordinator, bogged down by additional non-counseling tasks? Comment below with your ideas to advocate for the school counselor’s appropriate role in school testing. The following article is a great resource to share with your administrators if you are struggling with testing duties: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/PositionStatements/PS_High-StakesTesting.pdf

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