A student’s performance on a standardized test is influenced by many things: some obvious, some elusive, some over which educators have control, and others over which they do not. Until someone invents a magic wand, word, or potion that can be waved over, said to, or imbibed by students, educators will have to rely on more conventional methods to help their students succeed on standardized tests. Below are some general test-taking tips for year-round test preparation as well as last minute tips for test-taking students.
Reduce Stress and Build Confidence
As well as the physical and mental aspects of test-taking, there is also a crucial psychological component to testing well. It is important, therefore, to reduce students’ stress and increase confidence during the year so that when test-taking time rolls around, students will feel well-prepared and at ease.
- In order to reduce stress, it first needs to be recognized. Discuss feelings and apprehensions about testing. Give students some tools for handling stress.
- Begin talking about good habits at the beginning of the year. Talk about getting enough sleep, eating a good breakfast, and exercising before and after school. Consider sending home a letter encouraging parents to start these good routines with their children at home.
- Explain the power of positive thought to your students. Tell them to use their imaginations to visualize themselves doing well. Let them know that they have practiced all year and are ready for what is to come.
- Remember to let students stretch and walk around between tests. Try using “Simon Says” with younger students throughout the year to get them to breathe deeply, stretch, and relax so it won’t be a novel idea during test time.
- Build confidence during the year when using the practice tests. Emphasize that these tests are for learning. If they could get all of the answers right the first time, they wouldn’t need any practice. Encourage students to state at least one thing they learned from doing the practice test.
- Give credit for reasonable answers. Explain to students that the test makers write answers that seem almost true to really test the students’ understanding. Encourage students to explain why they chose the answers they gave and then reason with the whole class on how not to be duped the next time.
- Promote a relaxed, positive, outlook on test-taking. Let your students know on the real day that they are fully prepared to do their best.
Last Minute Test-Taking Tips
A few things to be mindful of the night before and day of the test…
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before the test. Most people need about eight hours.
- Avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks before taking the test as they can make you jittery.
- Eat a balanced meal.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Read/listen to the directions carefully. If something is unclear, ask
- Wear a watch and budget your time.
- Find out the rules of the test. Will you be penalized for answering something incorrectly? For leaving something blank? Will partial credit be given?
- If you get stuck on a question, mark it and move on. You can come back to it later.
- If the test permits, do a memory check. Jot down important formulas or information on a piece of scrap paper.
- Use mnemonic devices to jog your memory.
This concludes our series on standardized test-taking tips and strategies