Portrait of pensive student thinking of right answer at lesson

Giving AzMERIT for the first time? Here’s help!


Your students, your principal, and your fellow teachers have talked about AzMERIT: Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching annual assessment all year. Now the big test is almost here.

Take a deep breath. You will get plenty of help from your school in terms of training to administer the test. And here’s some help from the Arizona K12 Center for keeping yourself —  and your students — relaxed and focused.

  1. Take time to move and stretch.

Have your students do their favorite athletic or yoga stretches at their desks. Practice a day or so before the test. Numerous studies have shown that movement and stretching before tests calms kids and gets the blood flowing to the brain.

If you want to teach your students something special before the big day, show them a few Brain Gym exercises. Brain Gym’s 26 simple movements are believed to replicate the moves young children make when learning to coordinate the eyes, ears, hands, and body. The movements are said to help with concentration, focus, and memory.

Brain Gym’s Cross-Crawl, for instance, is said to help students with problem solving. Try it yourself by standing up and marching in place. Touch a hand to the opposite knee with each step.

Do the exercises along with your students — you will feel better too.

  1. Avoid sugar and other stimulants before the test.

You’ve heard about giving students peppermint candy to help them focus? Don’t. In fact, don’t encourage students to have any sort of candy, caffeine, or junky carbs before the test.

It’s important not to take a test on an empty stomach. A balanced breakfast or lunch that includes low-fat proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains should do the trick. What to avoid? Donuts, sugary energy bars, sugary juices, and coffee drinks. Eat the wrong way and that quick energy boost from stimulants can lead to a crash right when the brain needs to be clear.

Teachers administering tests do not need sugar highs and lows either. Snack on nuts and yogurt, and avoid dehydration with lots of water.

  1. Prep the right way.

You already know not to teach to the test. So what can you do to give your students an edge without giving away the answers?

Talk, talk, talk about test-taking strategies before the big day. Here are a few tips to share:

  • Tell students to read all of the answers carefully before selecting one. Before tackling a reading passage, previewing the answers can help the test-taker focus.
  • Look through the test and answer all of the easiest questions first. Then, take more time with the harder ones.
  • When guessing, stick with the first guess.
  • Check work carefully after finishing. There is no point in being done first if some of the answers are wrong.

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