Multiplication Test Timers

On the Download Files page, you can find a set of multiplication practice sheets for helping your students master basic multiplication facts from the 2's through the 9's.

Each sheet is double-sided. Students complete the "Products" side on one day and the "Factor" side the next. Before taking either test, though, the paper is folded back so that only that day's test is showing. That's because the test has been designed to be self-correcting. For example, the missing product for problem #1 on the left side can be found in problem #1 on the right side.

Test sample

When the test is over, they unfold the paper and use the information on one side to correct their answers on the other side. It's actually simpler than I've described it. You'll see.

Anyway, the direction sheet explains that these are timed tests. The time limit enabled me to determine if they were really memorizing the facts or were, instead, using some invented way of figuring out, say, 6 X 7. Developing alternate methods for solving problems is a good thing; nonetheless, when it comes to multiplication facts, nothing beats memorization for mastery.

The first time my students worked their way through these timed tests--one family per week=nine weeks of practicing--they were given 90 seconds in which to complete 28 problems. When we started over again with the 2's, the time was reduced to 60 seconds.

Note: I had my students work on multiplication facts almost all year long. It takes that kind of commitment to get to the point where they are truly mastered. Mastered to the point that the fourth grade teachers could always tell which students had been in my room the year before.

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Test Timers

To help make things more enjoyable for the students and easier to manage for the teacher, I've created some songs you can use to time the test.

There's a 90-second version and a 60-second version. Each one starts with a trumpet intro called "First to Post." (You'll recognize it when you hear it. It's the song they play at horse races to let you know the start of the race is imminent.)

Although it's only seven seconds long, it's a great way to get your students focused and ready to go and a heck of lot better than the teacher having to say,

"Okay. You guys ready? We're about to start the test. Everyone ready? Come on, now. It's almost test time. Remember you only have 90 seconds. Ready? Okay.....Go!"

Yikes.

As soon as the last trumpet note has been played, the students begin the test.

For the next thirty seconds they won't hear anything from the song. After that, musical cues will alert them to what's going on.

Cues in the 90-Second Version
After thirty seconds of silence, they'll hear a chime. The chime indicates that the test is going to end in sixty seconds.

Thirty seconds later, they'll hear a claxon. As you can imagine, the claxon signals the final thirty seconds of test time.

When just five seconds remain, they'll hear a series of 5 chimes that descend in tone. (Your students will quickly figure out the chimes mean 5...4...3...2...1...)

The time's up signal is the short, but oh-so-effective funeral dirge from the old PacMan game. When your students hear this, they'll know to put down their pencils, unfold their tests, and correct them using something other than the pencil they used to take the test.

Suggestion: It's always good to eliminate as many temptations to cheat as possible. After all, they are still children and sometimes struggle with trying to do the right thing. Having them correct their test with a crayon or pen just makes it that much harder to give in to the temptation to write in an answer during the self-correction process.

Cues in the 60-Second Version
The only difference is the elimination of the "one minute left" chime. Other than that, it follows the same pattern:

"Call to Post" trumpet blast
Thirty seconds of silence
Claxon
Thirty seconds of silence
Countdown chimes
PacMan's Dead

Demo Song
Here's a shortened version of the 60-second song so that you can hear all four musical elements.

Click to hear Test Timer demo

Download
If you're not sure how to download a song, instructions can be found here.

Otherwise, have at it and have fun.

Test Timer 60 seconds

Test Timer 90 seconds

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More Test Timers
Based upon a request from a teacher for a longer Test Timer, I made four more versions.

"Call to Post" trumpet blast
One minute of silence
Chime (one for each minute left)
Additional one-minute gaps and chimes until the final minute
Thirty seconds of silence
Claxon
Thirty seconds of silence
Countdown chimes
PacMan's Dead

Test Timer 2 minutes

Test Timer 3 minutes

Test Timer 4 minutes

Test Timer 5 minutes

Reality: I'm thinking that 5 minutes is probably the limit of effectiveness. Beyond that, you'd want to use a countdown digital timer that the students could see from their seats. And the best one on the market happens to be in our online store.

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