Test Taking as a Genre


Tests as a Genre

Just as you teach students to read and understand across genres, you can teach them to read and respond to the genre of tests. Testing reflects reading and writing that people do for authentic purposes. The major difference is that on tests readers need to be more concerned about what the tester is looking for in order to show their knowledge and understandings. As we think about the genre of testing, we need to remember that students' thinking is the most important area of focus, just as it is in any other genre.

Things to remember with testing as a genre...

-Explicitly teaching a limited number of examples is ultimately more powerful and helpful than hours of drill on vague workbook examples.

-Too much drill undermines the time for more meaningful curriculum , which deprives students of vital opportunities to build basic reading and writing strategies.

-Education is much more than test preparation; you want to communicate this important understanding with your students.

-Parents will appreciate the test preparation you do, but you want them to understand that your curriculum is much richer and broader than teaching to the test.

(Fountas & Pinnell)


Take a moment to explore the IDOE website. You can follow the link below, to a page that will share the blueprint of the test for each grade level, item samplers, and instructional assistance guidance. The instructional assistance guidance list standards, leveling them as critical content, important content, and additional content. Take the assessment yourself, using the link below. The more familiar you are with the test, the more comfortable you will be with supporting your students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is testing a new genre all together?

No, test preparation is about supporting students in thinking logically and flexibly and transferring all they know to their test-taking.

What about my struggling readers?

It may be tempting to think that struggling readers need practice reading texts that are too hard for them, yet the evidence shows that they can't and don't read texts that are too hard. Several weeks of reading text that is too difficult will not result in growth. Look for ways to provide ample reading time for all students at independent reading levels. *Be sure to check out grade level specific links below, for more specific supports.

How do I fit everything in?

Look for ways to embed test taking skills so that they are learned across time. Check out the link below, for some Reading Workshop suggestions.


Calkins, Lucy. A Curricular Plan for the Reading Workshop. New Hampshire: Heinemann, 2011.

Calkins, Lucy. A Curricular Plan for the Writing Workshop. New Hampshire: Heinemann, 2011.

Fountas, Irene and Gay Su Pinnell. Guiding Readers and Writers Grades 3-6. New Hampshire: Heinemann, 2001: 463-476.