Testing made {much} better, Part II

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This is part two in a two-part series by Diane Burdick, M. Ed. For part one, click here. 

Ahhh, spring: swaying daffodils, refreshingly warm days, welcomed longer afternoons…and tests, tests, tests. Although standardized tests are extremely important, they shouldn’t strike fear or dread into the hearts of your students. Instead of hitting the all-panic button come testtime, help your student feel confident and prepared with these helpful hints.

Consider the Senses

Come test day, make sure your classroom is as sensory-friendly as possible.

Temperature: Adjust the temp so it’s not too warm or cold, and encourage students to bring a removable sweater or sweatshirt to regulate their own temp, as well.

Sound: If you have any overhead lights that buzz, try to get them fixed before testing (buzzing lights can particularly be distracting for students with learning and processing weaknesses). Refrain from playing any music during testing, even classical. While it may be great to play quiet melodies beforehand or during stretching breaks, any music at all may be very distracting to students…even if it’s calming (and even if research says it makes them smarter).

Sight: Between tests, encourage students to look up and look around, to give their bleary eyes a break from small type.

Stretching: Get up, stretch legs, reach for the ceiling…any small physical movements will help loosen the limbs and energize the brain between test sections. Another good activity: Have students stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Using their right hand, have them make large, figure-eight swoops in the air in front of them, straightening their arm out completely. Crossing the midline (middle of their bodies) with their arm in a coordinated motion causes the brain hemispheres to fire simultaneously– another good brain exercise. Then, switch arms.

Tips for Parents: Ensure your student has a distraction-free study area where he can dedicate himself to studying for the tests. Look for a study zone that has good lighting and is neither too light nor too dark. Monitor the temperature of the location too, wear appropriate clothing or adjust the temperature so that the student is neither too hot nor too cold. Select a comfortable spot with supplies on-hand, but be sure to take frequent breaks to give your student’s mind a rest. Let him stand up every once in a while and stretch to keep his body and mind attentive.

Fuel Up

Don’t let a growing tummy become a distraction on the big day of the test. Help students start their day out right with some healthy food, and perhaps provide a nut-free high-protein or complex carb snack during a testing break.

Tips for Parents: 

• Serve up scrambled eggs. They’re full choline and vitamin B, and have a boost of protein too.

• Feed ‘em fruit. Look for something high in fiber, such as apples to help sweeten the meal without adding artificial sugar.

• Mega multigrains. Instead of sweetened cereal, serve up high-fiber to you’re your kid’s brain working and tummy full. Look for cereals with whole grains, such as muesli-type or flakes without the artificial sweeteners. Top it with milk and some blue berries for extra boost of flavor antioxidants.

Then, grab some oj (high in folic acid and vitamin C) and toast to a happy, healthy test week!

For more testing resources, click here. 


Kanar, C. (2011). The confident student. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.


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