Helping Students on Standardized Tests
March 28, 2005

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Macon, Ga.— The CRCT, ITBS, High School Graduation Test and other benchmark and standardized tests are at the forefront of many students', teachers' and parents' minds this spring. Dr. Karen Michael, an assistant professor at Mercer University's Tift College of Education, says it is up to parents and teachers to improve their students' confidence in testing to increase their motivation to do well on these standardized tests that are becoming increasingly important in this age of educational accountability.
 
Below, Michael, who completed her dissertation on the fifth grade standardized writing test and served on a testing committed when she taught school in Gwinnett County, lists some strategies for students of all ages to employ while taking tests. Michael taught pre-K through eighth grade for eight years.

Reading Strategies
1. Read the questions first, and then read the passage.
2. Analyze the characters and the plot as you read.  Try to make a connection to your personal life.
3. Use context clues, such as looking at the words around an unknown word to figure out what it means.
4. Identify the main idea.  Let the title of the passage be your guide.
 
Mathematics Strategies
1. Try each answer choice.
2. Look at the charts and graphs first.
3. Draw a simple diagram.
4. Solve word problems step by step.
 
Michael says that in addition to these strategies specific to certain types of questions, there are also some general guidelines that test-takers should remember:
 
General Strategies
1. Often, a question may give a clue that helps you answer another question.  Practice finding the clues.
2. View the test as an opportunity to show what you know.  You are smart!  You can do this as easily as any other task you complete in school.
3. If you are not sure of the right answer, get rid of the answers you know are wrong, and then make your best guess.
4. Maintain a positive attitude.
 
Finally, the Mercer faculty member notes that parents can positively influence their children as they gear up for these important tests. Below are a few suggestions for parents.
 
What Parents can do at Home
1. Ensure that your child sleeps well and eats a healthy breakfast.
2. Arrange for your child to arrive at school on time and relaxed. Mornings need to be calm and stress-free, even if you have to wake up earlier than normal to make the morning routine flow smoothly.
3. Maintain a loving and warm environment and steer away from conflicts.
4. Encourage your child to do his/her best work.
5. Discuss the importance of the test.
6. Celebrate the end of the test with something special like a day at the park with your family.
 
Keeping these strategies in mind this spring should alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding test taking, said Michael.

 "Together, we can create the best possible environment for our students to give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they know," she said.
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