Standardized testing…two words that evoke a lot of emotions with parents and educators and there are people on both sides of the fence. Standardized tests are tests that are administered and scored in a consistent (standard) way. Those who are for standardized tests think that they are fairer since every person receives the same test and then the same system is used to grade each test. The consistency allows for tests to be compared and is considered to be more objective. Due to all of these reasons, standardized tests are commonplace amongst schools and your student is pretty much guaranteed to take several during their school years. These tests don’t have to bring a lot of angst and anxiety to you or your student. There are ways to prepare your student so that they can take the test with confidence!
Study Ahead and Practice
Cramming for a test may be how most teens tend to study but encourage them to begin their studying well before the test date. When a student crams for a test, they may think they are able to retain the information, but in reality, they are more apt to make errors and end up in a panic during the test. They might get their facts mixed up or forget them all together. Studying for a week or two ahead of time allows the student to practice and practice until they know the facts like the back of their hand. Also, if you are able to track down practice tests, have your student take them. This will get them familiar with what the test format could be like and will allow them to test their skills and knowledge.
Scan the Test
Encourage your teen to take a look at the entire test before beginning. If they see areas of the test that they can answer quickly and correctly, have them begin there. Then, they can tackle the harder areas after. Your teen could also take inventory of how many questions are on the test and then determine how much time they have to spend on each question. This will assist them in budgeting their time and they’ll be able to decide if they have extra time to spend on the hard to solve problems. Also, if a question stumped your teen, clearing their mind and circling back to the problem may allow them to view the question in a new way or jog their memory of the answer.
Take a Breath
It’s easy for student’s to get anxious and start to panic if they hit an area of the test that is difficult to answer. That response is natural, but they should know what to do to cope and refocus their mind, should this anxiety set in. Encourage your student to take a moment, close their eyes, and clear their head. Taking a few slow, deep breaths will reduce some anxiety and will let your teen get a second wind. They will then be ready to tackle the remaining parts of the test with a renewed determination.
Always Read the Questions in Totality
It’s easy to skim a question and think you know what someone is asking but often times, even one word can change the whole meaning of what is being asked. It’s crucial that your student read the WHOLE question before choosing their answer. This allows for less thoughtless mistakes. Misreading and misinterpreting questions account for a lot of the incorrect answers on tests. Should time permit at the end of the test, encourage your student to review their answers. This review should help them catch any mistakes they made.
Process of Elimination
Let’s face it, there are bound to be questions that your teen simply doesn’t understand or wasn’t prepared to answer. Make sure they know how to address this, should the need arise. The best way to handle questions such as these are to use the process of elimination. They should start by eliminating any answers that they know are 100% incorrect. Once the wrong answers have been eliminated, they can make an educated guess as to what the correct answer is. Should they determine there is more than one right answer, they could select the answer of “more than one.” If that isn’t an option, then they are incorrect and they need to choose what answer best suits the question.
A Few Last Pointers…
- Make sure your teen gets a solid night sleep the evening before the test. Staying up late to study won’t help their scores unfortunately. If they are tired when they take the test, mistakes are bound to be made.
- Have your teen dress in comfortable, appropriate clothing so they aren’t distracted or fixing their clothing during the exam.
- Cook a good, well-rounded breakfast for your child the morning of the test. A full belly will keep their mind off of stomach growls and onto the test at hand.
- Tell them to use the bathroom before the test. A full bladder will be very distracting during the test and they may not be able to leave the room once the test is underway.
- Lastly, make sure your teen has a few sharpened number 2 pencils and erasers. They may even be able to pack a small handheld pencil sharpener in case they need it during the exam.
Test taking skills are great things to learn and fine tune. People are given standardized tests in almost all years of life and knowing how to prepare, stay calm, and properly answer the questions will help your teen throughout the course of their lives. Have any questions on the type of tests that we administer or on our courses? Our staff is eager to talk to you so please, give us a call at 800-297-2119.