Sorting Reading Question Stems: Free Reading Test Prep Activity

I am very intentional about how I address the state end-of-grade reading/ELA test in my classroom. I want what we do during test-prep time to match and complement how I’ve taught students to think and learn all year long. Rather than “drill and kill” test-prep, it’s important for us to focus on teaching our students to “think through” reading tests.

Sorting reading test question stems from our released End of Grade tests is one of the many ways my students learn that successful test-taking can be accomplished through orienting ourselves to the territory of the test and learning how to be thoughtful in our approach.

When we set up inquiry-based learning opportunities that put students in charge, "test prep" becomes more meaningful {and less "scary"}. Through inquiry, you can lead students to analyze how reading tests are put together and discover what types of questions they can expect from "the test."

Thinking about the ways different reading test questions can be grouped into categories allows students to understand that there are types of questions that—while worded differently—require the same or similar comprehension processes in order to answer. For example, main idea, theme, and choosing the most appropriate title for a text all require generalized, big picture kind of thinking.

Helping students generalize question types so that "the test" is not so secretive and not so overwhelming is exactly what this question sorting activity is intended to do! 

You can grab a copy of the reading test questions sort I use year after year by subscribing below!

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Once you get the question sort in your inbox, all you need to do is:

  1. > > PRINT enough of the question cards that students will be sorting so that students can work in groups of 3-4.

  2. > > Have students cut apart the question cards.

  3. > > Ask students to read the questions and sort them into groups that make sense to them. 

  4. > > Give students sticky notes or ask them to jot down reminders of why they put certain questions together in a group (and even label them with a title or category).

  5. > > Follow up with a class discussion where students share their insights and categories, and you sort the questions together.

  6. BONUS STEP for Over-Achievers: I recommend "thinking through" the questions and sorting them yourself. Take notes about what questions you would put together and why. 

I've shared more details about how I use these cards in the download, so be sure to fill out the form above to get the questions sent to your inbox. (3rd-8th grade to choose from!)

I hope this is a test-prep idea that you can use to help your students take more ownership of the lessons you use to prepare them for their reading test. 

Want to check out more awesome test prep ideas and strategies to make this season more enjoyable?!

Take a look at these other awesome test prep ideas for your upper elementary students!

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