Timed Practice Overview
Test preparation isn’t just about taking practice assessments over and over again. True test preparation should include embedded learning to improve outcomes. When given the opportunity practice skills needed to be successful on an assessment, students should have a goal in mind: either during the assessment or afterward as they reflect upon their answers. The goal may be to get a certain number of questions right or answer enough questions in a set period of time.
Many assessments have a set number of questions and a specific length that students must answer them in. Timed practice, paired with meaningful interaction and reflection, can improve performance. This strategy provides guidance for both teachers and students to set goals, practice, and reflect in a cyclical manner.
Why Timed Practice
- Requires students to think about the end goal: assessment.
- Encourages students to practice throughout the year in preparation of a timed assessment.
- Allows students to set goals and work toward goals with respect to time.
1. Make a plan.
- What is the timed goal for your students?
- Where are your students starting? This will vary for each student.
2. Select the passage and the type of questions that students will be answering.
- Multiple choice
- Constructed response
- Variety of questions
3. Start the timer.
4. Students read the text.
5. Students read the question(s) carefully and respond.
6. Students review their answer choices.
7. Students submit their work.
8. Students record the time.
9. Students set a goal for the next time they do timed practice.
10. Repeat steps 3-9 with the purpose of continually decreasing the time taken until the final goal has been reached.
Strategies for Scaffolding Timed Practice
Timed practice can be used for a variety of question types, so make sure you plan ahead of time. For example, if you know that students will have to take a 75-minute assessment with 50 multiple choice questions, plan accordingly. If students will have 75 minutes for a variety of questions, build up to that. First, practice multiple choice and then constructed response, for example.
Students should not set goals until they have completed a timed practice. This will ensure that they can set realistic goals based on where they currently are and where they want to go.
Have students work with a partner once they receive their scores back and use an error analysis protocol to determine where they may have answered incorrectly and why.
Timed Practice Guidance
- Some students may be exempt from timed practice due to an Individual Education Plan.
- Students should be building their own self-awareness and planning as they are doing periodic timed practice. Encourage students to take ownership and set their own goals.
- Not all assessments are timed; students should practice appropriately.