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The Principal's Office

Test Taking Skills

Even if your youngster is a good reader and writer, she may still have trouble when it comes to taking tests.
Preparing for tests, taking tests, and reviewing tests go hand in hand.  Follow the tips below, and your child will be on her way to test success.
1.  Before the Test
Ask if your youngster's school offers sample tests.  They are a great way to practice for both standardized and regular classroom tests.  Sample tests help children become familiar with directions and what the test will look like.
2.  During the Test
Your child should always read the material carefully before she begins.  Directions are important.  If your child doesn't understand what to do, encourage her to ask the teacher to explain further.
3.  After the Test
Review the test results with your youngster.  Discuss what went right and wrong.  For example, did he run out of time?  Next time, he might try answering the easier ones first, such as multiple choice.
Note:  If you're concerned about your child's test results, talk with the teacher.  She/He may suggest additional ways to help your youngster prepare for tests
Hints for Standardized Tests
If it's spring, it's usually time for standardized tests.  To help your youngster be prepared, share these tips about the types of questions that often appear.
Multiple Choice
Read all the answers before marking your choice.  Remember, your first instinct is usually best -- so don't change your answer unless you're sure.
Look for words such as never, always, all, and none.  They're usually in false answers.  Words like may or often are generally found in true answers.
Read essay questions at least twice.  Then, make a list of important thoughts, or key points, about each question before writing your essay.  Read through the finished essay to be sure you've included all your key points.  Check spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
Tip:  Your child may feel more comfortable if she's familiar with the test format.  Ask your youngster's teacher for a sample test or look at the public library.
Improving Comprehension
Reading comprehension is a part of most standardized tests.  How can you help your child improve his understanding of what he reads?  Try a "paired reading" with your youngster.
1.  First, you and your child silently read the same part of a story, an article, or a textbook.  Try two or three paragraphs to start.
2.  Next, listen while your youngster summarizes aloud what he has just read.  He might say, "I learned that sedimentary rocks are made from pressure."  After he's finished summarizing, offer your corrections or additins to what he heard.  Example:  "We also learned that igneous rocks come from cooling lava."
3.  Then, each of you read another two or three paragraphs and changes roles.  Switch back and forth until the whole story, article, or chapter is read.
This activity is a good study aid for subjects like science or history -- and it builds listening skills.