Use of Exam Review Games to Beat Test Anxiety

Cambodian Students Taking a Test

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Overcoming Test Anxiety

All students must take tests as part of the educational assessment process. Every year students must sit through long mid-term and final exams as well as periodic unit tests. For many young people this is an experience of great anxiety. Let's face it. Most kids today don't know how to study and review for a test. Reviewing and studying is boring and not cool. Therefore, when the test date arrives, a lot of students are on edge because they don't have confidence that they will pass a test. An enjoyable way of test preparation using team competition review games goes a long way in helping students enthusiastically get ready for the big test. As an EFL teacher in Thailand, I have used review games to prepare my pupils for tests. In this article, I illustrate my use of team competition review games in helping my fifth grade students prepare for mid-term tests.

Why Students Suffer Test Anxiety

Most students suffer test anxiety because they have no idea about what to expect on their test. In some cases, the teacher expects the students to already know based on what was covered in class. That's fine if the student was paying attention in class. The reality is that many kids aren't connected with the teacher and their assignments because they are talking to their neighbor or distracting themselves in other ways. Students also have no idea about the kinds of questions they will be expected to answer. Will the questions be essay, matching, fill in the blank, or multiple-choice? Because kids have no clue what will be on the test, they don't know where to start in reviewing and studying. Preparing for a test then becomes very boring and definitely not cool. Couldn't this time be better spent chatting on Facebook or playing Internet games?

Beneficial Aids to Students for Test Review

It is incumbent on teachers to assist students, especially the younger ones, review and prepare for tests. Most students don't know how to review and study for a test. Their parents for the most part are too busy to help them get ready for an exam. Teachers can do this by first communicating to the students and parents of the students what will be on the test and the types of questions kids can expect to see. Second, teachers should show students in class how to study and review for a test. This should include making sure all students outline the main points that will be tested and write down examples of the concepts that will most probably appear on the test. Third, the teacher must organize a fun test review with team games to engage all students in the review and study process.

Team Game Activities for Test Review

Nothing more than a competitive group game stimulates the interest of most young people. In my EFL classrooms I have successfully used team games to review topics appearing on tests. Around the middle of December, 2012, my fifth grade EFL students will be taking their mid-term exams. My school has already notified the students and their parents that the following topics will be on the exam: simple past tenses of irregular verbs; personal possessive pronouns; reordering of the sequence of exchanges in a dialogue; writing dates with ordinal numbers; and use of correct vocabulary. In my classroom periods with students I plan to utilize the following team games in reviewing the following test topics:

1. Writing Sentences with the Past Simple Form of Verbs

My students already know that on the test they will be given a verb and then expected to write a sentence using the past simple form of the verb. If my whiteboard is big enough, one member from each of four teams comes and takes an assigned position at the board. The teacher then says and writes a verb on the board which the students have already learned. Next, the students must use the past simple form of the verb to compose a sentence. The team which writes a sentence the fastest and with no errors gets a point. Different team members then come to the board for a second round. This process is continued until all team members have participated in the game.

2. Reordering the Correct Sequence of Exchanges in a Dialogue

In this activity, students are broken into three or four teams. Three or four teams with three members from each team come and take their assigned positions at the board. Each team is then given an 8-10 sentence scrambled dialogue written on a piece of paper which it must reorder correctly. Team members work together and write the correct reordered sequence of exchanges on the board. The team which finishes this task the fastest and with no errors wins and is awarded a point.

3. Writing Dates with Ordinal Numbers

Students are broken into four teams. One member from each of three teams comes to the board. A member of the fourth team also comes to the board and selects any date, writing it on the whiteboard. For example, the student might write 12-1-2012. The other team members than write the correct date spelling out the correct month and ordinal number. For example, 12-1 should be written: December first. The team writing the date the fastest and with no errors wins the round. The game continues with a second round in which team members are rotated. Different teams also have the chance to send a member to write a numerical date for other teams to spell out.

4. Use of Vocabulary

The class is divided into two teams which stand in two lines facing each other in the classroom. A member of each team directly across from each other in line then faces off and is given a word to spell and use in oral sentence construction. The student performing this task correctly first wins the round and continues standing. The student on the losing team sits down. All students face off in this competition.

5. Use of Personal Possessive Pronouns

In this game, a member from each of four teams comes to the board. On the board are written the nine personal possessive pronouns: your, yours, my, mine, his, her, hers, their, and theirs. When the teacher says begin, team members select one of the pronouns and use it to compose a sentence. The student who composes a correct sentence the fastest wins the round and a point. The game continues until all team members have participated.

6. Modified Jeopardy

I often use a modification of the Jeopardy game in my review sessions. The way I do it is by first selecting for categories the subjects which the students will be tested on. If we have been studying pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and nouns, for example, these will be the categories and there will be different questions ranging from the easy to extremely hard for each category. Each question will also have a certain point value. Two teams compete and members of each team work together to answer selected questions within a set time limit.

The use of test review games can turn an ordinary boring class into a very exciting, worthwhile class. Weak and strong students are included on all teams, and it has been my experience that the stronger students have helped the weaker students during review. Students participating in test review games have also scored higher on tests than the ones who have not taken part.




© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn

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Comments 12 comments

nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

Team review games in the younger ESL/EFL classrooms work really well, even with adult students. You are right - if you can make the 'test' questions feel like a game, then some of the nervous students will be more relaxed in the actual test, and perform better.

As an EFL teacher, I've always struggled with the students who freeze completely during spoken tests. They are fine when we talk in normal conversation, but as soon as they know I'm grading performance, they can't even put together the most simple of sentences. Games help a little, but so does grading that is not announced and explained beforehand.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

nifwlseirff,

Thank you very much for reading and your insightful comments as a fellow teacher. Yes, a lot of students do freeze during spoken tests. I remember almost freezing when I was taking an oral test in Chinese Mandarin many years ago.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I know that it is a fact that some individuals do better under pressure (of test situations) while some seem to fold. I'm not sure of all the reasons for this, but I know that as a student, I learned that there are personal habits to maintain. Active class participation, attentiveness and focus, as well as completing all assignments, goes a long way, in making study much easier. There are study rules to follow and students would be wise to learn and use them.

Your hub explains an extremely excellent program for group review and I can clearly see where this would be most beneficial. Sounds like you have a very interesting job, Paul and more importantly, it's obvious you love what you do.........UP+++


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Paula,

Thanks for reading this hub and your very thoughtful comments. I just finished applying my review games in three classes today. I revised the games and rules slightly, but I found out a lot of things that kids didn't know and some things that I didn't expect them to know. Everyone was engaged and very active helping each other. The job is interesting, but at my age it is getting harder and harder to keep up with very active fifth graders!


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

I agree with your approach. Review games are a great way to both beat the stress at test time and also make revising fun!

Shared, up, useful, tweeted and pinned.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Brett,

Thanks for stopping by and your great insightful comments. I appreciate you promoting this hub through the social media.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Giving students an idea of what to expect on exams is good, and I especially like your review games. While these can be difficult for some students I think it can also add an aspect of fun and I think students learn easier and more quickly when a subject is presented in a fun way. That can be very difficult with some subjects, but whenever possible learning should be fun.

Voted up, useful, and will share!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Au fait,

Thank you very much for commenting on this hub. Review can be so dull for students, epecially the younger ones, if you don't liven up the experience with some useful games. Thanks for the votes and for sharing.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Paul, this is something new to me as we do not have test review games in our schools. but I think it make learning so much more fun.

Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

These methods all sound like great ways to keep the students interested while preparing for exams. Voted up, interesting and useful.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

rajan,

Thank you very much for reading and commenting on this hub. Test reviews would be very boring for my younger students if I didn't use review games. I appreciate your good ratings and sharing of this hub!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

mperrottet,

Thank you very much for your supporting comments. I appreciate your votes and am happy that you found this hub interesting and useful.

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