Friday, May 4, 2012

Parenting Tips: Test Taking

by Tiffany Rudd
I just got a note from Cameron’s Kindergarten teacher informing parents that the students will be taking “end of year tests” for the next few weeks and asking for support at home. It really took me back to my years as a public school teacher and the stress of testing time. I worried so much over each student’s readiness and on their ability to show their hard work and knowledge on a test. Now, here I am, at the beginning of many years of the same worries for my own children. As much as we hate to admit it, testing is an important part of life. From Kindergarten tests, to ACT/SAT, college exams, and even drivers license exams. 
So, what can we do as parents to help our children do their very best on tests? 
I found some great suggestions at
1. Instill the value of learning in your child at an early age.
2. Make sure your children are good readers.
3. Communicate frequently with your child's teacher or teachers.
4. Know your child's learning progress and needs by monitoring assignments, homework, and test performance.
5. Establish a regular time for homework and studying.
6. Don't make your child nervous about tests, even big ones.
7. Encourage your child to develop a positive attitude toward school and testing.

8. Review tests with your child after they are returned home for what your child did and didn't understand.
9. Remember, tests and grading systems are not perfect.
It is also important to teach your child good test taking skills. Here are ten great testing tips to share with your student.
1. Have a Positive Attitude
Approach the big test as you'd approach a giant jigsaw puzzle. It might be tough, but you can do it! A positive attitude goes a long way toward success. 
2. Make a Plan
The week before the test, ask your teacher what the test is going to cover. Is it from the textbook only? Class notes? Can you use your calculator? If you've been absent, talk to friends about material you may have missed. Make a list of the most important topics to be covered and use that as a guide when you study. Circle items that you know will require extra time. Be sure to plan extra time to study the most challenging topics. 
3. The Night Before
Cramming doesn't work. If you've followed a study plan, the night before the test you should do a quick review and get to bed early. Remember, your brain and body need sleep to function well, so don't stay up late! 
4. The Morning of the Test
Did you know that you think better when you have a full stomach? So don't skip breakfast the morning of the test. Get to school early and do a ten-minute power study right before the test, so your brain is turned on and tuned up. 
5. Test Time
Before the test begins, make sure you have everything you'll need - scratch paper, extra pencils, your calculator (if you're allowed to use it). Understand how the test is scored: Do you lose points for incorrect answers? Or is it better to make guesses when you're not sure of the answer? Read the instructions! You want to make sure you are marking answers correctly. 
6. Manage Your Time
Scan through the test quickly before starting. Answering the easy questions first can be a time saver and a confidence builder. Plus, it saves more time in the end for you to focus on the hard stuff. 
7. I'm Stuck!
Those tricky problems can knock you off balance. Don't get worried or frustrated. Reread the question to make sure you understand it, and then try to solve it the best way you know how. If you're still stuck, circle it and move on. You can come back to it later. What if you have no idea about the answer? Review your options and make the best guess you can, but only if you don't lose points for wrong answers. 
8. Multiple-Choice Questions
The process of elimination can help you choose the correct answer in a multiple-choice question. Start by crossing off the answers that couldn't be right. Then spend your time focusing on the possible correct choices before selecting your answer. 
9. Neatness Counts
If your 4s look like 9s, it could be a problem. Be sure that your writing is legible and that you erase your mistakes. For machine-scored tests, fill in the spaces carefully. 
10. I'm Done! 
Not so fast - when you complete the last item on the test, remember that you're not done yet. First, check the clock and go back to review your answers, making sure that you didn't make any careless mistakes (such as putting the right answer in the wrong place or skipping a question). Spend the last remaining minutes going over the hardest problems before you turn in your test.
I found this great list at I created a printable version HERE so you can share it with your child.

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