Keep calm and test on

April 1, 2015 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary, High School, Middle Years

For many grade 3-8 students, launching into state English Language Arts (ELA) and math tests immediately after spring break may be a bit unnerving.

Sharing a few helpful test-taking strategies with your children can ease anxieties and help them perform at their best.

In the days before the test, help children prepare by getting a good night’s sleep and eating a healthy breakfast.

Talk about any stress your child may be feeling about the test. Voicing fears or anxieties can help minimize them for children. It allows you to validate their feelings and share your own personal experience with test-taking. You can also reassure your child that he/she just needs to do their best on the test. The tests don’t count toward their class grade but instead give teachers a picture of what students have learned or how instruction can be tailored to meet students’ needs.

Relax! Go for a walk, ride a bike, play a game. Do something prior to testing that is fun and can help take a child’s focus off the upcoming test.

Dress comfortably the day of the test, and remember to do your best.

Some tips to share with your child to use on test day:

Take a few deep breaths to help you relax before you start. Think positive thoughts! (Research shows that thinking positive thoughts can actually help the brain do its job.) Try this trick if you get stressed in the middle of the test. Take a few slow, deep breaths and visualize yourself doing something that makes you happy for 10-20 seconds: playing with friends, riding your bike, shooting hoops or swimming in summer. Taking a few seconds to relax can help calm nerves and regain focus.

Read all directions carefully. Make sure you understand what you are being asked to do.

If possible, scan the questions following a reading passage before reading the passage. That way, you’ll have a general idea of the purpose for reading and the kind of information you’re looking for.

For math problems, circle the function you’re being asked to perform. For example, circle the minus sign to make sure you subtract instead of add.

For reading passages, circle key words in the questions: compare/contrast; main idea; explain. This will help you search for answers while you’re reading.

If you skip a problem, be sure to skip the corresponding number on your bubble sheet.

Process of elimination: If you can eliminate two of four answers because you know them to be wrong, your chances of choosing the correct answer are much greater.

For multiple choice questions: Typically your first answer is your best answer. If you second-guess yourself, don’t change an answer unless you are sure the new one is correct. (Research shows that a majority of the time, a changed answer is incorrect.) Stick with your initial gut instinct.

Remember that you have been learning strategies all year long. Believe in yourself – the information you need is all in your brain.

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