Every year I think about THE TEST. For me it’s the Texas Algebra STAAR test. I realize that throughout the school year I am teaching my students the knowledge they need to be successful for their next classes and their future. However, I also have this dark cloud of the end-of-the-year state test hanging over my head. I know the students need to pass it. Yes, the wording may be different than the way I teach it. Teachers and students get stressed about it. But I have to give the test, and I don’t really have a choice. So I decided to think of specific and detailed ways to help my students pass the Algebra STAAR test. Here are some STAAR math and Algebra strategies to help your class pass the test.
Actually these strategies can help your students with any test throughout the year. If you use them at the beginning of the year, your students will be used to them when the EOC (End of Course) test comes. I hope you find them useful.
Teacher Strategies for Passing the Math STAAR or any Test
Spiral for Retention
Start spiraling NOW. Display one or two starters from past lessons to give students a chance to remember and/or relearn the material.
Align your Problems to the Test
Create problems that align to the exam you are giving. Just because a student knows a concept doesn’t mean they will be able to apply it to a differently worded problem that has the same skill. When practicing end-of-course tests, use past tests from the internet to do this or create your own.
Here are some STAAR/EOC task cards already made for you! Use these as starters, add them to your current tests, or put them on google classroom for extra practice. You can also play games with them. (See the “Play Games” section below.)
- 6th Grade STAAR Task Cards TEKS Aligned
- 7th Grade STAAR Task Cards TEKS Aligned
- Algebra STAAR Task Cards TEKS Aligned
- 5th Grade STAAR Task Cards TEKS Aligned
- 8th Grade STAAR Task Cards TEKS Aligned
Master the Vocabulary
Practice vocabulary. Many times an EOC question can be answered by knowing the vocabulary word and not even having to do the math.
Frayer Method (Write the word, definition, picture, example, and non-example to help you remember and analyze the word.)
Create flash cards (Use index cards and put the vocabulary on one side and the answer on the other. Have someone quiz you.)
Use Test Taking Strategies
Practice strategies with the students so they may be able to apply them during the test.
Eliminating answer choices (Try to eliminate more than one answer choice by looking at the reasonableness of the answer or the vocabulary.)
*Look for Key Words
Look for key words and highlight them or write clarifying notes next to them.
Plug in the answer (Work backwards and use the answer to help eliminate choices.)
Create a “Cheat Sheet”
Write tips and tricks that students can practice at home.
Practice Grid Problems
Practice many grid problems so students feel comfortable using them.
Play games with the questions to keep the students engaged.
Quizlet Live ( This collaborative group game uses a leaderboard so students can see each other’s progress. Create questions or search their library for pre-made games. )
Quizizz (A quiz-like game with memes. Create your own or search their library for pre-made games.)
Kahoot (This individual or group game uses a leaderboard. Create questions or search their library for pre-made games.)
Squad (A great review game that holds all students accountable and keeps it fair and differentiated for many skill levels.
The Grid Game (A reward-based game where students answer questions and may get their name chosen for a prize more than once!)
Use websites to keep students practicing.
IXL.com (Practice 10 problems per day without a subscription This website gives students instant feedback when the answer is incorrect.)
Khan Academy (Free website with videos and practice problems.)
Student Strategies for Passing the Math STAAR BEFORE the Test
- Eliminate any distractions for a certain period of time. For example, put your phone in the other room for 30 minutes so you can focus only on practicing the material.
- Take notes in class. Highlight or underline things that are important and write comments to help clarify the problem.
- Ask questions in class or after class to understand the parts you don’t know. If you don’t ask questions you may not realize that the mistake you’re making can be easily fixed.
- Study with a friend or a group so you can test each other.
- Make flash cards so you can quiz yourself.
During the Test: Student Strategies for Passing the Math STAAR Exam
- Guess on every question. Do not leave any blank unless your teacher tells you differently.
- Do the easier problems first to build up your confidence.
- Put question marks on the problems you don’t know and come back to them later in the test.
- Use test taking strategies like looking for key works, working backwards by plugging in the answers, and eliminating answer choices.
- Double check your work. Even though this may seem boring, you might be able to find a mistake or two that you made during the test.
Do you have other ideas you use in class to help students study for tests? If so share them in the comments below.