This is part 1 in a two-part series by Diane Burdick, M. Ed.
Ahhh, spring: swaying daffodils, refreshingly warm days, welcomed longer afternoons…and tests, tests, tests. Although standardized tests are extremely important, they shouldn’t strike dread into the hearts of your students. Instead of hitting the all-panic button come testtime, help your students (and parents!) feel confident and prepared with these helpful hints.
One Bite at a Time
We all know how to eat an elephant, and it’s not all at once. Similarly, don’t spend the week before testing cramming with your class; rather, review both daily and weekly. Incorporate concepts into several simple “Morning Work” problems for your students to solve when they enter the class each day. You can write questions or equations on the board or have a simple practice sheet waiting on student desks. Steady, consistent review is better for both long-term memory…and everyone’s nerves.
Tips for Parents: Ask your child’s teacher for a list of concepts to review or information about the test format. For example, will your student be required to fill in answers or will the questions be mostly multiple choice? Even going over this simple fact with children helps them feel calm when the test is finally placed in front of them.
Use graphic organizers, charts and diagrams to help students visualize the answers to study questions. When possible, use alliteration or rhymes to help students remember key points.
Consider using the SQ3R technique— Survey, Question, Record, Retain, and Recall — to enhance comprehension memorization. Click here for detailed direction on how SQ3R works; it’s a great way to transfer information to long-term memory!
Tips for Parents: Check out the veritable slew of research-based test-prep workbooks and activities at your local school supply store. These from The School Box are some favorites:
- Georgia CRCT Prep Books (they sell books by state!) $15.95
- Carson-Delosa testing prep books, by grade level. These workbooks contain strategies and practice activities that will greatly increase student confidence and familiarity with the test format and content. Love them! $12.99
- Core Skills Test Preparation workbooks from Harcourt School Supply, by grade level: another great set of skill-specific practice pages to help build mastery and strengthen reading comprehension. $9.99
Kanar, C. (2011). The confident student. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.