Test taking has become an increasingly valuable skill. Recently, testing has taken center stage due to the No Child Left Behind Act and through the implementation of testing in order to receive a high school diploma. Students need to learn strategies and techniques beginning in elementary school and on in order to succeed throughout their academic careers.
Testing in elementary school is very important. It not only helps teachers assess student ability and subject mastery; it also helps students and parents to monitor progress. Providing a child with test taking strategies and techniques will help students and schools perform better.
Elementary students are tested on core subjects: English, math, science, and social studies. Parents and teachers should provide the following test taking tips. Remind students to listen carefully to all instructions to avoid mistakes and confusion. Students should also work on their time management skills; if the student is stuck on one question encourage them to make the best guess and move on. Students should really try to answer as many test questions as possible.
If the test is multiple choice students should always read the choices thoroughly, paying close attention to words like: not, no, never, now, all, always, only, most, best, exactly. These tests are often times very wordy so highlighting these words will keep details and question intent clear. Another important test taking strategy is to use the process of elimination. Students should eliminate all the answers that they know to be incorrect, this will help narrow down the choices. Students should also stick with their first gut instinct when it comes to answers. Tell students not to change an answer unless they are sure it is incorrect. Students and parents should also encourage students to use scratch paper for math sections. Students should never work out problems in their heads; drawing visuals will also ensure accuracy.
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Middle school students can expand upon the testing strategies used for elementary students. Middle school students can circle keywords in questions to help centralize the point. Then students should rewrite questions using their own words (this can be tricky – be sure that the student understands not to change the questions!). This technique can be very useful in those tricky math word problem sections. Encourage students to use a scratch piece of paper to take notes or make drawings.
Middle school students should also consider going through the test and answering the ‘easy’ questions first, then go back and tackle those complicated questions. This will help students to better manage their time.
Middle school students may also consider reading through the question and then prior to reading the answers, come to their own conclusion. This will help narrow down choices and ensure that students select the correct answer.
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High school students face a different kind of pressure when it comes to testing. Many public schools have implemented a standardized test to judge whether or not a student graduates. Students must also take ACT or SAT tests in order to be accepted into colleges. The same strategies used in elementary and middle school will help high school students. Managing time and ensuring that students answer as many questions as possible is crucial.
ACT tests will also include a writing section. It is important that students develop strategies for attacking this essay. Students should carefully read through the writing prompt and ensure that the issue is thoroughly understood. Students should immediately choose their perspective and begin taking notes on their practice worksheets. It helps to make lists, write reasoning, and select examples. Then students should decide how to organize their essay and begin writing an outline. After completing the essay students should always proofread (it helps if you read the essay backwards in order to catch grammatical errors).
It is important that students read through the testing instructions carefully. Go to the testing site prepared; take pencils and an acceptable calculator. Allow yourself plenty of time to avoid being late and stressed out.
College students face different challenges compared to high school students when it comes to testing. Colleges focus more on testing within the classroom rather than standardized testing. Testing techniques and strategies are crucial at the college level. It is important that students stay on top of assignments, they should learn the material and review as the class moves along. It is important to clear up any misconceptions or confusions immediately. College students will need to develop study habits; students should break up units into manageable sections for study sessions. Students should work on creating flashcards, mnemonic devices, and practice writing essay questions. It also helps students to reflect on past tests. College students should take advantage of forming study groups as groups can help pinpoint big picture themes and students can quiz one another.
- College Testing Tips
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Additional links focusing on note taking, study skills, tips, dealing with stress or anxiety, problem solving tips, and resources for parents.
- Top 5 Note Taking Tips
- Building Note Taking Skills for Kids
- Study Tips for High School Students and College Students
- Effective Study Tips
- For Parents: Helping Students Deal with Text Anxiety
- Dealing with Testing Stress and Anxiety
- Tips for Problem Solving Tests
- Problem Solving Tips for Math Tests
- For Parents: Helping Your Kids to Succeed on Tests
- Parent Resources
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