Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Test Prep with Task Cards

If you are new to Task Card Corner, WELCOME!  I am so glad you have joined us.  View THIS post to learn more about my vision!

We took our state assessments at the end of February and beginning of March, but I have received several questions about how I use task cards to prepare for state testing... and it just so happens that we did use them, and we had a blast!  We did test prep stations with task cards for about a week in both math and reading.  The centers were differentiated and they focused on common core strands as well as our former state standards that are still being tested this year and next (even if they aren't a Common Core Standard).

This year I have done several "Passports" for students when we are doing centers, and we stuck with that theme for test prep.  They had a Reading Passport to Success and a Math Passport to Success.

Each group of students got different passports based on what I knew they needed to review, especially in reading.  I had some kids working on higher level Inferential Vs. Literal Comprehension Questions, and some were working on Story Elements.  I used my fabulous Target Dollar Spot buckets and had a big row of buckets all along our back counter (which I didn't get a picture of... oops)!  The kids worked their way through the buckets based on what assignment/skill was on their passports.  In each bucket, they found a variety of different task cards to use to practice the skill.  When they finished working their way through a bucket, they would come find me, I would stamp their passport, and then they would check their answers using the answer keys.  The kids LOVED getting their stamps!

Reading Task Cards for Test Prep

Here is an example of one group's Math Passport.  Keep reading to download an editable version for yourself!
I had a lot of fun with math.  The kids have so many different skill sets and needs that I ended up with four different passports, with some kids reviewing the basics of addition and subtraction and another group working more heavily on fractions and decimals and critical math thinking.  In my mind, I was helping to ensure (hope, pray, fingers crossed) some kiddos would be proficient and giving others a chance to show that they are advanced.

Math Task Cards for Test Prep

There is SO much to cover in math that I didn't use complete sets of cards, but pulled 10-15 from different standards.  You can see here that for Geometry, they worked on Angles task cards, Perimeter & Area Task Cards, and Geometry/Shape Task Cards all in one bucket.

As far as time, I considered giving them a set amount of time at each station, but then I realized that wasn't the most logical idea--if they needed extra reinforcement on a topic, giving them ten minutes to work on it then forcing them to leave it behind wouldn't be the best practice.  So we spent a week of our literacy and math block devoted to completing our cards, and they worked at their own pace.

While the students were working on cards, I had identified areas that I wanted to be sure to hit home and use some of the down and dirty test prep materials with in small groups.  You know the drill-- released items, test prep pages, all of those things that you just HAVE to use so that kids are used to the format of the test.  So, as the students were independently working on their buckets, I saw 3-5 small groups each day, practicing some essential test prep material.  It was lovely!

Now, there were a few sets of cards that I had ALL of my students do, regardless of where they stood academically.  All of them worked on Inference (the inference task cards are differentiated so some groups were doing different cards), Sequencing, and Context Clues task cards in Reading.  In math, they all had to do the Data & Graphing Task Cards, What's My Operation? Task Cards, and Elapsed Time task cards.  These are skills that always seem to be heavily tested and most often taken for granted as having mastered.

Don't Have Time for A Week Long Study Session?

If you don't have time to devote an entire week to review, I highly recommend a set of reading review cards.  I make monthly reading and math skills task cards for my students to use in a variety of situations (morning work, morning meeting, early finishers, quick assessments, homework, etc.), and if you don't have a lot of time, they are a great way to hit the skills fast and furious.  I'm finishing up my April cards now (did you know that April is one of the less interesting months historically?), but you can still use the March cards, too!

Of course, you can use ANY task cards you have for this, but all of the task cards shown above are for sale at my TpT Store.  You can purchase them by clicking on their respective link above: If you are looking for reading task cards, click "Reading."  I will link to my "Must have test prep task cards" below.  If you have any requests for a specific set of task cards that you need for your test prep, let me know, and I'm happy to make custom orders!

Download an editable version of the Reading Passport Here and the Math Passport Here.  Nothing fancy or special, but it did the trick!  (Funny story:  My kids were so disappointed that there was no "fancy border thing" around the passport.  They have been spoiled!)

Must Have Test Prep Task Cards
Grades 3-5


  1. I was just thinking about making passports to keep track of my kids when they work with task cards! I'm a little bummed that it isn't an original idea, but I am glad to have a copy of yours! Thanks so much for sharing :-)

    The new blog looks great!

  2. I really like the passport idea. Our state tests aren't until the last two weeks of May, so I have made plans to devote half of my reading blok to review stations and small groups. I'll begin that adventure 5 weeks before the test, so we don't have to be so rushed and can still keep a somewhat normal routine. Thanks for the great ideas. I'm really looking forward to reading the blog!

    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

    1. I'm jealous that you have until the end of May! :) Thanks so much for your comment.

  3. Will you be selling your 4th grade test prep cards on TPT?

    1. Hi Courtney!

      I am working on a set of spring math task cards as we speak. I hope to have them posted by Monday at the latest! They will be on TpT. Thanks for checking :-)


  4. I would like to invite you to link up with the TEST PREP LINKY PARTY I am hosting at Your post is great! I know there are lots of other teachers who would agree with me. Hope you will accept my invitation.

  5. I have used your task cards for test prep with my 3rd & 4th grade RTI groups this week. I did a carnival theme & they were able to play a game if they answered correctly. I wish I had a blog to post pics!

  6. Hi Lori! That sounds so wonderful! If you did take pictures that I could post on the blog, I would love to post them here. I would be willing to trade a few products to be able to post them. :) Let me know!

    1. Sounds good to me! I will send them soon. Thanks!!

  7. Thanks so much for this post! My students will be taking a district assessment (new to us this year, and part of Common Core implementation) in a couple weeks, and since I'm a student teacher, I'll be leaving them soon and I want to finish with a bang. This sounds like a great idea! Again, thanks!!

    - Sarah Beth
    Miss White's Classroom

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