Coaching Students for EQAO

Before I became a teacher, I was an alpine ski racing coach. The way we would prepare athletes for competition would typically comprise of the following cycle:

  1. Activation (warm-ups)
  2. Drills (increasing flexibility/mobility, then strength, then stamina)
  3. Consolidation (practice)
  4. Performance (simulate a race)
  5. Cool-Down (stretch, relax, recover)

Athletes start from a resting state and gradually increase intensity. Then, they would “cool down” to relax.

I view teaching any skill, including test taking, in a similar way.

When students take a standardized test, I view it as a performance. Therefore, any test prep would be treated as a practice that starts with low intensity, peaks for performance, then relaxes.

About a week before taking a test, I would provide students with a series of warm up lessons that would gradually increase in intensity and then decrease before the test.

On day 1, I would introduce a competitive aspect by playing a game (math bingo).

The following day (2), we would do some drill work involving curriculum-relevant mental computations, then computer-assisted calculations.

For consolidation on day 3, I would start is by acquainting students with last year’s exemplars:

EQAO Grade 9 Scoring Guide

Students can see examples of Code 10-40 responses. I would have students try the problem, then compare their solutions to each exemplar so they can see where they stand. This can be done in small groups and students can score each other’s work based on a class discussion of each exemplar.

Once students are aware of the EQAO success criteria, I would get them to complete questions from last year’s test as a “performance” simulation on day 4:

EQAO Grade 9 2016 Test

The key would be to ensure that students get to practice the questions in authentic but still low-pressure situations (no grades at first)




This way, students would know what to expect and may not have as much anxiety once they are required to complete the questions in a high-pressure situation.

For a cool-down day (5) before the test, students should be allowed to do something fun and relaxing such as play an online math related game or practice plotting lines and coordinates using paper or Desmos.

These EQAO resources are from the following page:

2016 EQAO Assessment Materials

What do you do to prepare your students for standardized testing? Please let us know in the comments!

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