Test Prep Games That Won't *Actually* Feel Like Test Prep - Elementary Education

Test Prep Games That Won’t *Actually* Feel Like Test Prep

While test prep games are secretly one of my favorite things, I ultimately hope test prep is an obsolete term soon. But until then, let’s make lemonade. Out of lemons, that is. In this case, testing is the lemons. Leaving a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Which brings us to test prep games, the sweet, delicious lemonade.

But I digress. While testing remains mandatory in a large number of schools, it’s our job (unfortunately) to prepare our students for it. In my most recent teaching years, it was my mission to make this undesirable part of the year as tolerable as possible–and dare I say, even fun?

This concept is easy, low prep, and fun. We coined this the “review ring” and it was a staple from Spring Break on.

If you are one of the fortunate souls who don’t have to test and therefore prep, then consider all of these game suggestions for end-of-year review, just for fun, back-to-school review games, etc.). There is so much fun to be had no matter the circumstances!

Now, of course, we have the inevitable elephant in the testing room. Worksheets and review packets reign supreme in many classrooms (unfortunately) and I’ll throw these paper hogs a bone–there is a time and place for these printable items.


We are in unprecedented times and in our current educational landscape, we need to make sure our students and classrooms are as fulfilled as possible. I’m a huge proponent of play in any form, but there’s something about a good old-fashioned team vs. team game, group games, and movement games that can light any classroom up with excitement.

Here are a few of my favorites. Click the link at the end of the post to make your own review ring.

Old-School Test Prep Games

1. Around the World

If you’re thinking this is the old classic where one student travels from one student to the next, you are correct. As an overachiever/teacher’s pet, this game was right up my alley. But as a teacher who has calmed down quite a bit over the years, please remember your more reserved students and determine if this game is right for everyone. A happy medium I prefer is to use components of Knockout (#4 below) during Around the World to ensure a fair playing field.

2. 4 Corners

Gosh, I love this game. It’s simple. Assign each corner or 4 areas of your room a topic, number, etc. For example, if you are reviewing fractions in 1st grade, you might consider labeling each corner 1/3, 1/4, 1/2, 1/5. Make sure you (the facilitator) have large cards labeled with the same numbers. Students begin playing by choosing a corner–quickly and safely. Once all students have chosen, the facilitator removes 1 card from the bag or pile. Whoever is standing in the corner matching the number on the card is out and must return to their seats. Play continues until 1 player is left standing.

Test Prep Games That Encourage Teamwork

3. One Word Game

This game is best played with ELA topics since it is more of a description-based game. One student sits on the hot seat, a chair with its back to the board. Above and behind the student, a word is written on the board. For the sake of this example, let’s say you are reviewing U.S. presidents with upper elementary students. George Washington is written on the board. The class (sitting on the floor facing the hot seat student) gives the person one-word clues such as “first” and “Martha.” Play continues until the student guesses and a new hot seat student is chosen.

Alternative: Play with 2 hot seat students and their respective teams! Teams take turns giving clues to their player.

4. Knockout

This is my JAM and if you want to skip straight to allllll the details and good stuff, you can read this article about how to play Knockout. But in a nutshell: 2 times line up facing the board and the slides are divided into 2 sides. The first player in each line faces off; the first one to call out the correct answer is the winner and returns to the end of their line to stay in the game. The ousted player heads to their sidelines to cheer on their teammates.

But all hope is not lost–special slides like “Free Pass” or “Pick a Pal” could ensure you have more good luck than bad. Play continues until one team is left without players.

Lowkey Test Prep Games

5. Secret Skill

This one isn’t so much a game as it is a concept. Essentially you create a mini-challenge in the midst of a regular assignment. For example, you know your students could benefit to brush up on their use of capital letters at the beginning of a sentence. During the writing workshop, you announce that you are watching for a “secret skill” in the students’ writing. At the end of the workshop, students who did follow the rules for the secret skill get a special sticker, high five, etc. The alternative is selecting a skill using the randomizer below and then checking to see which students followed it.

You can always bookmark this page but you can also download your own copy of this video and a set of stickers that match each skill here (don’t worry, it’s free):

6. Stinky Feet

This one is a game I picked up from Teaching in the Fast Lane. You draw a large foot on the board with sticky notes surrounding it. On the back of each sticky note, it will say something like “+5” or “-5.” Student teams will be asked a review question then when their answer is submitted, they pick a sticky note from the board. The number determines what adjustments are made to their team score. The game continues until a winning team is crowned or time runs out.

Runners Up:

  • Escape Room – I’ve never personally done one with students but there are a ton of cool ones to choose from on TpT. Here’s a link to all the free ones!
  • Jigsaw activity – This is a rather old-school method but effective if you are looking for more explicit review of content. Students are put in groups to review a certain topic (for example, habitats). They create a chart or a way to share back to the class what they reviewed about habitats in a ‘turnaround teaching’ style.

Like what you see? Click here to download cards for your own review ring.

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