Help Your Child Prepare for Big Tests

February 12th, 2013 posted by Dr. Raymond J. and Eileen Huntington

by Dr. Raymond J. and Eileen Huntington

For many children, springtime leads to stress-time as new statewide tests become a barometer of success for students and schools alike. Most parents are well aware of the pressure, especially as more school districts base decisions about grade advancement and graduation on how well children measure up.

While it’s rarely easy to eliminate the stress completely, parents can encourage children to take a series of steps to improve their study habits and make the test-taking process more manageable.

Step One: Plan ahead!

When your child’s teacher tells the class about a test in advance, your child should find out (if possible) what kind of an exam it will be. Is it an essay test, which will require your child to organize and relate separate facts and write out detailed explanations for answers? Is it a multiple choice test, which will require your child to carefully consider several answers to determine the right one? Finally, is it a combination of multiple choice and essay, which demands both types of skills?

Once your child knows a little more about the test, make sure he or she has the right tools, such as pencils or pens, a watch, and a calculator and dictionary, if they are allowed.

Step Two: Try to study during the daylight hours.

While this isn’t always easy, children should study for tests at the time of day when they’re most alert, and when they are able to avoid the temptations of television and sleep.

Step Three: Study without distraction.

Regardless of what your child may have heard, it’s very difficult to absorb and retain vital information with the television or radio on, or while unnecessary “multi-tasking” by answering personal emails or meandering through the Internet. A quiet, well-lit room, and a comfortable chair and desk offer the best environment for studying and preparing for a test.

Step Four: Pace yourself.

If your child knows about a major test that is coming up, it’s a good idea to break up the material that will be tested so that it can be studied in manageable portions, beginning with the most difficult. Students should study each day before the test, if possible, and use the last evening to review all of the material they’re expected to know.

Step Five: Read the directions carefully

, and follow them to the letter. If students don’t understand the directions, they should ask the teacher before moving forward.

Step Six: Quickly survey the entire test before beginning.

This will give your child a good idea of what will be expected, and a chance to see which questions are easiest to answer.

Step Seven: Budget your time

(this is where the watch will come in handy, if there isn’t a clock on the wall). Students should create a time schedule to give each question the time it deserves.

Step Eight: 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 Nine: When it comes to multiple choice, take a logical path to the right one.

Students should start by eliminating answers they know are wrong, 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 Ten: When writing an essay, think five.

Paragraphs, that is. The first paragraph of an essay answer should state the key point and give a succinct overview of the essay. Each of the next three paragraphs should provide details or demonstrate knowledge that directly supports the key point, using examples and specific facts if possible. The essay should end with a short paragraph that concisely summarizes the essay in two or three sentences. If possible, it’s a good idea to take a minute or two and jot down an outline for the essay before beginning.

Step Eleven: Save time for review.

Your child should save at least 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.

Step Twelve: Relax.

Excess anxiety can chip away at confidence and cut into the brainpower needed for your child to do his or her best. Many students will find that a series of deep breaths before beginning a test can lessen anxiety – and so can reminding themselves that they have studied hard and have every reason to feel confident.

This last point is particularly important as your child contemplates – and forecasts – his or her own success or failure. The impact of positive self-esteem, of knowing he or she is well-prepared, is undeniably helpful. And while the most important step to doing well on a test is mastering the material that will be tested, each of these tips will take your child one step closer to the best possible performance.

Dr. Raymond J. and Eileen Huntington (12 Posts)

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Cindy Rowe
Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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