Why Students Should Practice Taking Tests

Why is testing important for K-12 students?

Most importantly, testing is most valuable as an education tool that helps parents, teachers and students themselves determine what students know and identify those areas where students need additional work.

With this knowledge, precious time and effort can be focused on these areas, enabling students to “catch up” and ensure learning foundation blocks are strong. This is critical because most education builds on prior learning blocks and weak foundations always impedes subsequent learning.

Did You Know?

Did you know the average student will take over 1,000 tests and quizzes during their K-12 years? And then the tests become really important – ACT, SAT, College Exams, law school, medical school, professional certifications (e.g., lawyers, doctors, accounts, physical therapists, project managers, engineers). And don’t forget about tests you have to take to get a job – civil service exams, computer technology exams, police and fire academy entrance exams, etc.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see that tests can bring a lot of pressure and anxiety to students and adults. It may be personal pressure to do well, pressure from parents to perform or life-changing tests that cause the internal pressure and anxiety. There is even a clinical term called “Testing Anxiety” that addresses the paralyzing effect the pressure of taking a test can have on an individual.

And students need to become familiar with taking college courses and associated testing over the Internet. Over 5 million college students (more than 20% of all college students) took at least one online course in 2010 – an increase of more than 17% over the preceding year.

Overcoming the Pressure of Taking Tests

Like anything else, however, you can learn to improve your skills how to take tests and develop this as a valuable skill that will give both students and adults self-confidence, reducing the anxiety and self-doubt that may exist today.

It is important to note that successful test-takers tend to be students with good attendance, homework, and study habits. And parents who are involved with their child’s homework have the biggest impact on a child’s performance. Be aware, however, that it is best not to place too much emphasis on a single test result.

Here are several key factors that can influence how students perform on a test:

Prepare for the test and know what to expect — Know the name of the test and what it will measure; Study the material; Know the format (e.g., multiple choice, essay, short answer)

Get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast.

Have the proper tools for the test – pencils, erasers, paper, calculators, etc.

Bring a watch to the test with you so that you can better pace yourself.

Relax and remain positive.

Developing Good Test-taking Skills

If you are nervous, take a few deep breaths to relax.

Don’t rush but pace yourself.

Make sure that you put your first and last name on the test.

When you first receive the test, look at the entire test so that you know how to efficiently budget your time.

Read the entire question carefully and look for keywords. Don’t make assumptions about what the question might be.

Do the easiest problems first.

If you don’t know an answer, skip it. Go on with the rest of the test and come back to it later.

Don’t stay on a problem that you are stuck on especially when time is a factor.

Write legibly. If your teacher can’t read what you wrote, they’ll most likely mark it wrong.

Ask your teacher for clarification if you don’t understand what they are asking for on the test.

Don’t worry if others finish before you. Focus on the test in front of you.

If you have time left when you are finished, look over your test. Make sure that you have answered all the questions, only change an answer if you misread or misinterpreted the question because the first answer that you put is usually the correct one. Proofread your essay and/or short answer questions.

Practice, Practice, Practice

You can get practice tests from your child’s teacher or use education web sites like www.achieve100.com. Be sure to time any practice tests so that the child is not surprised by time constraints on test day.

Make certain your child follows up on any incorrect answers on the practice tests. These are obviously the questions/problems they don’t know yet.

In Closing

The best test-takers are prepared, confident and at ease. Even if you are nervous about your child’s performance, be wary of transferring that concern to your child.

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