by Rynette R. Kjesbo, M.S., CCC-SLP
Standardized testing can be stressful for both students and parents. Being prepared
for the test can help to ease some of the stress and anxiety. Here are some tips
you can use to help your children prepare for a standardized test:
- Keep up with schoolwork throughout the year – Most standardized
tests cover information that is taught all through the year in the basic curriculum
areas (for example, math, reading, and science). Check with your children’s teachers
throughout the year to make sure they are learning the material and also to find
out what activities you can do at home to enhance their learning.
- Find out if your children are eligible to receive testing accommodations
– Many students who have been identified as having a disability and who have an
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan are eligible to receive testing
accommodations. Accommodations are given to students with disabilities in order
to allow them to demonstrate what they have learned by removing barriers caused
by their disabilities. Accommodations can include changes to the way a test is given
(e.g., having the questions read aloud), the way the student responds (e.g., speaking
the answers and having an adult transcribe, or write, them down), or the environment
in which the student takes the test. Talk to your children’s teachers to find out
if they are receiving accommodations in the classroom that they might be able to
use on a standardized test.
- Familiarize your children with the test format – Many
standardized tests have sample questions or practice tests that are available for
students to review prior to testing. Taking the practice tests can help your children
become familiar with the test format, which can relieve some of their anxiety when
faced with taking the actual test. Contact your school or the Department of Education
in your state to find out if sample tests are available for the standardized test(s)
your children will be taking.
- Encourage your children to practice test-taking strategies
while working on their homework – While working on their homework, children
can practice skills for reading and understanding directions, skimming through questions
and answering the easiest ones first, narrowing down their choices on multiple-choice
questions, and skipping over difficult questions and returning to them at the end.
Also, since many standardized tests are timed, practice setting a time limit for
homework assignments so that your children can sharpen their time-management skills.
- Make sure your children are physically ready – Help
ease your children’s stress in the days leading up to a test by engaging in activities
such as going on bike rides, playing games, or listening to music. In order to do
their best work during every school day and especially on test days, children should
be well-rested and should eat a healthy breakfast before school. Being tired and
hungry makes it difficult for children to focus and do their best.
- Review expectations for the test – Don’t just focus
on the score. Instead, encourage your children to take the test seriously and give
it their best effort. Let your children know that they should listen carefully to
all test directions and if any of the directions are unclear, they should ask questions.