Teacher Organization Series – How to Organize Tests

As a teacher, you need to create, copy, administer, and grade lots of tests and assignments in order to have adequate evidence from which to provide grades for your students.

Keeping track of everything can be a nightmare, especially if you’re a new teacher or if you’re teaching a new grade or subject.

Over the last 4 years of teaching first grade, I’ve perfected my system for organizing and grading all of the tests that my students need to take throughout the year.

My system helps me to copy everything way ahead of time so I’m not scrambling at the last minute.

It also helps me to stay on top of grading so I can spend more time at home enjoying my family, not sitting behind a pile of tests at the end of the quarter.

In this post, I’ll share:

  • The system I use to organize tests for the whole year
  • Invaluable tips to help you stay organized and work smarter, not harder!

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My System for Organizing Tests

This system helps me to prepare and organize all of the tests that I’ll use for the whole year all at once! In fact, now that I’ve perfected this system, I usually use any spare time at the end of the school year to copy and organize all of my tests for the following year.

Step 1: Map out the whole school year and review my list of assessments

This helps me to know exactly which units/modules I’ll cover each quarter and therefore which tests will need to be administered.

How I map out my assessments for the year

Step 2: Color coded file folders by quarter

I use a different color file folder for each quarter of the year.

  • Quarter 1: green
  • Quarter 2: orange
  • Quarter 3: yellow
  • Quarter 4: blue

Colored Coded File Folders to Organize Tests

These are the file folders I ordered to organize my tests.

Step 3: Write the quarter and test name on a post it and place it on the file folder

Writing this information on post-its is optional but it helps me to see the label more clearly. It also makes it easier to change out any tests if necessary.

Step 4: After copying my tests, I place it in its file folder right away!

It’s very overwhelming to see stacks of paper sitting on your desk that need to be filed away. It’s also very frustrating to have to run to copy room at the last minute because you can’t find a test that you know you copied. Save yourself the unneeded stress and put things in their proper place.

Step 5: Pull out the test when needed

When I’m ready to administer a test, I just put out the proper file folder. This system also makes it very easy for me to make sure I’ve given all of the necessary tests by the end of the quarter.

Step 6: Grade it and place it back into the same file folder or in your students’ test folders

I try my best to grade tests as soon as my students complete them. This allows me to input their grades right away and not be bogged down by lots of grading all at once. I can also talk to students right away if they forgot to complete a portion of a test or if their answers were unclear. Once I’m done grading, I either place it in their math or reading test folders (as mentioned in my other post about general Teacher Organization Tips) or return it to the same color coded file folder.

Step 7: End of the year cleaning

At the end if the year, I clear out any completed test and place them in a box (organized by quarter). I hold onto them until fall break of the following school year in case I need to provide any evidence for grades. If for some reason I have every copies of tests that I’ll use next year, I keep them in their corresponding file folder and make a note that I don’t have to copy it again.

Additional Tips

Tip 1: Use excel to create record keeping sheets for all of your tests/assignments for each quarter

I worked to create specific record sheets a few years ago and now I can just input my new students’ names and print them off!

Quarter 3 Grade Sheet (note that even the tabs on the bottom of this excel sheet are color coded!)

I have sheets like this to record every test throughout the year. Notice the color coding at the top of the Quarter 3 grade sheet (left)? It mt matches the colors I used in my yearlong pacing guide (see picture at the top of this post).

Tip 2: Don’t put off till tomorrow what can be done today – put things in their proper place right away!

Avoid extra stress later by filing your tests right away.

Tip 3: Grade as you go, don’t wait until the last minute

Grading for 30 minutes once a week is much better than grading for 5 hours at the end of the quarter.

Tip 4: Throw away outdated tests

If you see a mistake on a test or your record keeping sheet, fix it now rather than saying you’ll fix it next year. Believe me, you’ll forget and wind up kicking yourself later if you put it off.

Tip 5: When you feel overwhelmed, create a list of what needs to be done and check things off one by one

Knowing what needs to be done and checking them off will give you a sense of accomplishment and help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tip 6: When students are absent and miss a test, write their name on it and keep it in a safe place so you won’t forget who needs to make it up

When the student returns, you’ll know exactly what they have to complete.

As a teacher, you have a lot of things on your plate. Whenever possible, it’s important to create systems that’ll help you to work smarter, not harder, to avoid additional stress.

This system for organizing a year’s worth of tests has helped me to be more efficient so I can spend more time enjoying my family.

So what is your big takeaway from this post that you’d like to try in your classroom?

Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Words to Live By 

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Proverbs 4:26


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