Improve Test Taking Skills With These Proven Strategies

By Huntington Learning Center

It's Never too Early to Learn Test Taking Skills

Our children live in a world of high stakes tests and there are specific test taking skills that make any exam easier, regardless of grade level, age, or exam format. Federal and state governments, local school districts, and individual schools all have specific tests that children must take to display proficiency, earn credit, or advance academic studies. All of these exams follow different protocol and assess different skills but there are universal exam strategies that can benefit every test taker.

Regardless of age, there are certain things students can do to prepare for a test and develop important exam strategies. These test taking skills are important if your child is 8 or 18:

Avoid Test Anxiety
A certain amount of anxiety is normal when preparing for a test and can often help students work more efficiently, prepare more effectively, and focus on the importance of the test. However, this anxiety should never be paralyzing. If your child is encountering a heightened level of anxiety over a test there are certain things you can do to help alleviate the worries. You can reframe how you talk about the test and remove any of your own anxiety from your child's presence. Try coaching your child to focus on the preparation and not the test. If your child is well prepared and confident the anxiety should subside.

Develop a study schedule
Work with your child to develop a study and practice schedule that allows for careful preparation of all test material. Emphasize that cramming for an exam rarely works. Even the youngest test taker can work within a study schedule when preparing for a test. Consider making a visual schedule on a poster or large calendar that will prominently remind everyone of the practice that needs to be accomplished. The professional tutors at Huntington Learning Centers can be an effective part of your test preparation schedule. When you invest in test preparation sessions with one of our tutors your child will receive customized instruction based on specific needs and assessment data. These tutoring sessions can be integrated into your child's study schedule.

Prepare the mind AND body
It's not enough to prepare a child's mind for the test, you also need to prepare the body. Focus on your child's sleep and ensure a proper bedtime every night leading up to the test. You should also evaluate what your child is eating for breakfast. Try to avoid sugary breakfast cereals that provide temporary energy but may ultimately lead to a sugar crash. Fix protein based breakfasts such as eggs, breakfast burritos, or smoothies made with Greek yogurt and berries.

Emphasize following directions Every test has a specific set of directions that each test taker must follow. Do some research ahead of time to see if you can find the specific directions for your child's test. Use these directions during your study sessions to simulate testing conditions. Make sure your child understands the importance of following the directions.

Focus on known questions
One tried and true test taking strategy is to answer known questions first. This is a skill that any aged child can practice. Students should skip difficult questions and answer those they know for sure, then come back to grapple with ones that pose particular difficulty. Help your child practice this skill by simulating testing situations with sample questions.

If you are concerned about coaching your child on test taking strategies contact the tutoring professionals with Huntington Learning Centers. We can create a customized plan that will provide instruction and practice on these crucial test taking skills. There are many different skills that we integrate into our tutoring sessions. What are some other important skills students should practice before taking a test?


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