How do you help your kids do their best on a standardized test? Follow these 10 easy steps for success.
1. Mark the tests dates on your family calendar. Make sure your kids get a good night’s sleep before each test. Have them eat a nutritious breakfast in the morning before the test.
2. Bring the necessary supplies. Have your kids bring three #2 sharpened pencils, a highlighter, a calculator for math tests, and a fun book or magazine to read after they finish the test.
3. Teach kids how to remain calm. Encourage them to take long, slow, deep breaths when they get nervous. Explain how stopping to calm down for a few moments can help them think more clearly.
4. Teach kids how to read questions. Explain how misreading a question is a common test-taking error. Encourage them to use a highlighter to help them read. Talk about how to pay attention to words such as “not,” “opposite,” “best,” “most,” and “all.” It’s better to read a question slowly—and even twice—before answering it.
5. Have kids double-check their answers. It’s easy for kids to fill in the wrong answer choice when they’re going too quickly. Have them double check the number of the question and the number on the answer sheet (since most standardized tests have a separate test booklet and answer sheet).
6. Encourage kids to circle a question and skip it if they’re stumped. It’s better to keep going on the test and come back later to deal with tough questions.
7. Follow the teacher’s advice. Many teachers suggest answering every question even if students don’t know the answer. That may entail guessing at times. Other teachers may not want students to do this. Find out before the test how teachers want students to handle questions they don’t know.
8. Encourage kids to do their best. Kids aren’t graded on standardized tests, but it matters that they try and do their best. When they get their test results, talk about them. Emphasize how they’ve improved or why they may have gotten similar test scores as the previous year or why they may have slipped.
9. Emphasize honesty. Even though your child may know about others who cheat, talk about how you want your child to be honest during all tests.
10. Celebrate with your child after the test. Taking standardized tests are stressful and hard work. Find a way to congratulate your child for doing his or her best.
Kids are starting to take standardized tests at younger and younger ages. In some ways, this is helpful because kids get used to the process. Both of my kids have lower stress levels when taking standardized tests than when I did as a child. Still: Standardized tests are a big deal. Many schools get funding based on how well students do on these tests, so encourage your child to do his or her best on all tests: whether they’re standardized or chapter tests.