This probably isn't the most pedagogically sound thing I do, but it works. We usually carve out a couple of weeks for test prep and I have a bunch of practice problems for my kids to do. At this point, I usually go from teacher to coach. By that I mean, we are simply trying to prepare these kids for what they are mentally going to have to deal with when they have that test in front of them. I put a clock on them to add a little extra pressure because they tend to stress themselves out anyway. I guess I figure they either need to learn to take the stress out of their tasks or they need to learn to work through it.
I don't spend much time talking about the importance (or lack thereof) of "The Test" during the first semester, but whether we like it or not, these kids are going to have to deal with tests in some way-shape-or-form for quite some time. I can downplay its importance all I want, but my kids (and their parents) have bought into THE STATE TEST.
Every one of us has a breaking point. We all have a part of us that eventually says, "I don't give a crap how the rest of this goes, I just wanna be done." And I spend some time talking to my students about this. On a long test--whether it's the SAT/ACT/GRE/MSAT/LMNOP or just a semester final, a student reaches a saturation point. For some it is at about the 50th question or so; for others, it's right after the test starts.
I figure my job is to help them take those thoughts captive, recognize where their threshold lies and encourage them to push through it.
We just finished today. I can see it in their eyes. It's that I-really-get-this-stuff-now-but-I'm-ready-to-do-just-about-anything-but-this look.
And I'm kinda ready to do something else with them too.