March Madness: Using Brackets for Test Prep


March Madness—the time of year where 68 teams compete over a span of two and a half weeks for a chance to win the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship. But did you know that you can use brackets similar to the ones used during the tournament to help prepare your students for assessments? Here’s a cool activity that will help make test prep fun and engaging for your students.


  1. For a specific unit in your class that you’re going to assess, create about 100 questions and write each question, along with the answer, on a note card.
  2. On a large piece of poster board (or on the whiteboard in your classroom), create a two-sided bracket and write one student’s name for each part of the bracket. Try to match the students with similar ability level together as much as possible. Note that the bracket size and the number of rounds will vary depending on the number of students. You might have to make some adjustments if you find yourself having an odd number of students at a particular round. If so, be creative…for example, you might decide to draw names to give students byes for certain rounds if you wish.
  3. Create a study guide for students with all questions and answers provided. Distribute the guide to all students after the March Madness activity is complete.


  1. For each part of the bracket, call the two competing students up and have them stand at the classroom whiteboard on opposite ends.
  2. Ask one question from a note card, and the first student to completely write down the correct answer wins that round and moves on to the next round. Update your bracket each time a student is eliminated.
  3. Go through rounds and eliminate students from the activity until there are two students left.
  4. The final two students will compete in a best-of-five series. The winning student will be crowned “March Madness Champion.” Feel free to provide a prize to the first- and second-place winners!
  5. After the winner has been crowned, give each student in the class a copy of the study guide.


Try this activity in your classroom and let us know how well it worked.


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