Best Practices for Pre-testing

Pre-testing is a powerful tool. Follow these best practices to optimize your pre-test results.

Pre-testing has many advantages. It can establish a baseline for your students. It can serve as the foundation for measuring improvement toward learning objectives. It can even serve as an introduction to course material. Because of this, it's important to start off on the right foot. Here are some tips and best practices to ensure your pre-testing goes as smoothly as possible.

Reduce Anxiety

For some, test anxiety is a real problem. People who suffer from test anxiety may perform poorly, resulting in test results that don't accurately reflect their knowledge and abilities. As many as 18-20 percent of school age children may suffer from some level of test anxiety.

A pre-test's power lies in it's ability to accurately assess a person's ability. Try some of the following ideas to reduce test anxiety. You'll get more accurate results and have a happier test group.

  1. If you're in a classroom setting, ensure test takers understand that pre-test scores are not part of their grade. Emphasize that pre-tests only gauge what they already know—it's okay and even expected that they won't know much of the material yet.
  2. Try a simple stress reducing exercise like deep breathing or writing exercises. Many stress reducing exercises take only a few minutes to complete, can be completed with people as young as age 4 or 5, and have been shown to improve test scores.

Stress Importance

Although you do want to reduce test anxiety, you also want to ensure your students or participants take the pre-test seriously. In the same way that you don't want them to underperform due to anxiety, you also don't want them to underperform because they don't believe that the results matter. Emphasize that, even though the score may not count toward a grade, it's very important to take the pre-test seriously and that do the best you can.

Having calm but focused test takers will help you get the best results for your pre-tests. Try some of these tips and let us know about your experience. Do you have other assessment tips? Let us know at

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