6 Ideas for Bell Work to Get Your Students Ready for the Virginia SOL Testing

Standard Of Learning (SOL) assessments can be a stressful time for students. Educators want to encourage and uplift their students in any way they can. Creative and intentional bell work is an excellent opportunity to get students in the right mindset for successful Virginia SOL testing.

Bell Work

What is the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) assessment?

The Virginia SOLs are the standards of learning required by Virginia for all public school students. The Virginia Department of Education develops these standards. The Virginia SOL tests determine a student’s ability to demonstrate mastery of curriculum content.

Virginia SOL Testing incorporates assessments of a variety of subjects. These include Reading, English/Language Arts, Science, Mathematics, History, Computer Science, and more.

When Is The VA SOL in 2023-2024?

You can view all the Virginia SOL assessment program dates here.

Who takes the Virginia SOL?

The state administers the Virginia SOL to students in grades K-12. Students take tests on different curriculum and courses from year to year, but all students take the VA SOL Test.

How will Virginia SOL be different in 2023?

  • The Virginia SOL social studies standards will be changing. You can read more about these updates here
  • There will also be a new reading item type that asks students to read a nonfiction passage and then write about what they have read. You can read more about this update here

Virginia administers most tests online with computer adaptive testing (CAT). CAT questions change in difficulty as students get questions right or wrong.

Are there practice tests and questions for the Virginia SOL?

Yes! Virginia SOL practice tests are available on the Virginia SOL website. You can use these to help students prepare for the Virginia SOL Testing. The website is a great resource that also has manuals and guidelines for each class. Various websites also offer free and paid Virginia SOL practice tests.

Are there ways to practice for the Virginia Standards of Learning Assessment?

Yes! In addition to the VA SOL Practice tests made available through the DOE, bell work is a great way to build a test prep routine into your class every day.

We like Bell Ringers for their multi-tasking abilities. Bellwork allows you to get organized, your students focused, and you can create a consistent routine of review for your big test. We’ve rounded up a few ideas to get you started on a bell work routine in your classroom.

What are some ideas for bell ringers that can help with test prep?

The key to getting students engaged during the first few minutes of the day is to provide quality bell work. These quick yet engaging activities will set the tone for the day ahead. We can utilize this time as a way to prepare for the VA SOL test.

Here are six ideas for bell ringers to prepare students for the VA SOL Tests.

Put practice questions into TeacherMade

TeacherMade is a great app that can convert Virginia SOL practice questions into digital online assignments. Just load a PDF copy of the practice test into TeacherMade, add answer choices, and add an answer key. Assign 3-5 questions to your students at a time, and in no time, you will have reviewed the practice materials for the VA SOL tests. It’s so much better than studying all at once, and you will get so much data for pivoting instruction with TeacherMade.

Play a game

You can create a quick quiz game using the Virginia SOL practice tests as a guide. Ask questions from random students. Any level of enjoyable engagement will help the students learn and memorize quickly.


Freewriting is a low-stress warm-up that allows students to write down their thoughts, feelings, and experiences related to any topic. Freewriting allows students time to respond to any given prompt and get in a calm and empowered mindset. This can be especially helpful if done in preparation for the Writing and Language Arts portion of the VA SOL Test.

Create a bellwork form that you can use any day

Bellwork forms bring even more consistency to the bellringer routine. Create a simple form that asks students to check in on their learning. It can be something simple with questions like:

    • What was confusing in class yesterday?
    • What do I have questions about?
    • What are you worried about on the quiz?
    • What are you curious about?
    • Do you know anything about [the topic]?

You can take this form and put it into TeacherMade. TeacherMade makes it easy to convert worksheets like this into online worksheets.

Ask an icon

Students can ask a historical icon any question they want. Another student can answer (in dramatic fashion!) the way they believe the icon would. Assign this bell work in conjunction with the History portion of the VA SOL Tests. This exercise will engage students and create a fun atmosphere for the day ahead.

Encourage Mindfulness

Pause. Breathe. Meditate. A few moments of mindfulness can be a fantastic way to get students to lower their stress associated with standardized tests. While mindfulness can help anytime, it can be beneficial on the first day of testing.

Bellwork is a great way to build test prep into your class every day. Utilize this opportunity as a way to prepare for the Virginia SOL Test. The bell ringer plays a crucial role in getting students engaged during the first few minutes of the day. These quick yet engaging activities are easy, low-stress techniques bell ringers help prepare students for the VA SOL tests. Happy prepping!