16 Ways to Improve Your Child's Test Scores

Test-taking skills and strategies can be learned.

9 Things You Can Do

multiple choice test

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Like it or not, testing is a valued element of school education. A test may measure a basic skill. It can affect a year's grade. Or, if it measures the ability to learn, it can affect a child's placement in school. The ability to do well on tests can help throughout life in such things as getting a driver's license, trying out for sports, or getting a job. Help your child develop good test-taking skills with these simple techniques from the United States Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

You can be a great help to your children if you follow these simple steps:

1. Don't be too anxious about test scores. If you put too much emphasis on test scores, this can upset your child.

2. Encourage your child. Praise her for the things she does well. If kids feel good about themselves, they will do their best. Children who are afraid of failing are more likely to become anxious when taking tests and more likely to make mistakes.

3. Don't judge a child by a single test score. A single test is not a perfect measure of what a child can do. There are many factors that might influence a test score. For example, a child can be affected by the way he is feeling, the classroom setting, and the attitude of the teacher. Remember, also, that one test is simply one test.

4. Meet with your child's teacher to discuss her progress. Ask the teacher to suggest activities for you and your child to do at home to help prepare for tests and improve your child's understanding of schoolwork. Parents and teachers should work together to benefit students.

5. Make sure your child attends school regularly. Remember, tests do reflect children's overall achievement. The more effort and energy a child puts into learning, the more likely she will do well on tests.

6. Provide a quiet, comfortable place for studying at home. Set aside a room in your house where your child can concentrate on her schoolwork without the noise of a television or radio.

7. Make sure your child is well rested on school days -- especially on test days. Children who are tired are less able to pay attention in class or to focus on a test.

8. Give your child a well-balanced diet. A healthy body leads to a healthy, active mind. Most schools provide free breakfast and lunch for economically disadvantaged students. If you believe your child qualifies, talk to the school principal.

9. Provide books and magazines for your child to read at home. By reading new materials, a child will learn new words that might appear on a test. Ask his school about a suggested outside reading list or get suggestions from the public library.

7 Things Your Child Can Do

It's good to be concerned about taking a test. It's not good to get "test anxiety." This excessive worry about doing well on a test can mean disaster for a student. It usually doesn't help to tell the child to relax, to think about something else, or stop worrying. But there are ways to reduce test anxiety. Encourage your child to do these things:

1. Space out studying over days or weeks. Real learning occurs through studying that takes place over an extended period of time.

2. Understand the information and relate it to what's already known. Review it more than once.

3. Don't "cram" the night before a test. Cramming increases anxiety which interferes with clear thinking.

4. Get a good night's sleep. Rest, exercise, and eating well are as important to test-taking as they are to other schoolwork.

5. Read the directions carefully when the teacher hands out the test. If you don't understand them, ask the teacher to explain.

6. Scan the entire test to see what types of questions are included (multiple choice, matching, true/false, essay) and, if possible, the number of points for each. This will help you pace yourself.

7. If you don't know the answer to a question, skip it and go on. Don't waste time worrying about it. Mark it so you can identify it as unanswered. If you have time at the end of the exam, return to the unanswered questions.

Source: United States Department of Education Office of Educational Research and Improvement

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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