Is it possible to be a top student and a terrible test-taker? Many parents and caregivers would answer a resounding "yes" when speaking of their own children. And they may be especially worried in the springtime, when many schools use test results to determine which students will graduate and move on to the next grade. But with careful test prep and strong test-taking skills, all students can take positive steps to improve their test scores. Here are some tips:
Step One: Find out in advance about what's going to be tested. The guidance office of your child's school should be able to give you details about state and district "standards" for subject matter knowledge that will be tested in these exams. Reviewing these standards will give you a good idea of the test content, and which skills and knowledge areas should be strengthened before taking the exams. You can also find out more about the standards and tests at the Department of Education Web site for your state.
Step Two: Talk with teachers. Chances are, your children's teachers are already focusing instruction to ensure their students are prepared for these tests. Talking with teachers is another good way to determine how your child is performing on tests results, multiple choice, and grade-level material that's relevant to the tests.
Step Three: When reading, think about the 5 "W"s. Reading comprehension skills are vital for academic success and for higher test scores. Students can strengthen these skills by quizzing themselves with questions about "Who, What, Where, Why and When" as they work through reading passages on the tests, and on homework and classroom reading assignments as well. Who is the passage about? What is happening and why is it important? Where is it taking place? Why is this important, and when is it happening?
Step Four: Become a better writer. Writing skills are also key to success on most statewide tests - and for new versions of the SAT and ACT as well. Writing two types of journals can strengthen these skills. A schoolwork journal can help students summarize what has been read or studied. Through a personal journal - in which students write about whatever interests them - students can become more adept at articulating ideas and feelings.
Step Five: Get help. For 29 years, Huntington Learning Center educators have provided instruction in reading, writing, mathematics and study skills tailored to each student’s learning needs. Students who turn to Huntington gain an advantage not only for test prep but also for continued academic improvement and growth. If your child is struggling, your local Huntington educators can discuss the best approach for building knowledge, skills and confidence.
Your child's teacher should also be able to tell you about test prep programs that may be available after school or on weekends to boost test scores. If your child's teacher re commends extra help from a tutor, make sure that you work with individuals and organizations that begin with a diagnostic assessment of your child's skills and knowledge. This will enable a qualified tutor to create a personalized program of instruction.
Step One: Read the directions carefully.
Students should pay close attention to the directions, and follow them to the letter. If students don't understand the directions, they should ask the teacher before beginning.
Step Two: Quickly survey the entire test before beginning.
This process helps students get a good overall idea of the material that will be tested and helps identify which questions will be easiest to answer.
Step Three: Answer the easier questions first.
This will help build up points (and confidence!). While answering the easier questions, your child can be subconsciously finding answers for the difficult questions to come.
Step Four: When it comes to multiple choice, take a logical path to the right one.
Students should start by eliminating answers they know are wrong, and then carefully consider the others. If your child isn't sure, he or she should make the best choice, since not answering is usually the equivalent of giving a wrong answer.
Step Five: Save time for review.
Students should save a few minutes to review answers and to make sure that all questions have been answered. It's also important to proofread for grammar, spelling and careless mistakes.
The Final Word: Take a healthy approach.
Most parents recognize the connection between rest, nutrition and everyday academic performance, but these factors are especially important on the day of a big exam. A good night's sleep and a good breakfast will help your child concentrate. Parents should also try to lessen their children's anxiety about these tests. By planning ahead and getting whatever help might be needed, most students will be more relaxed and confident when their skills are put to the test.