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How to Make Your Kids Better Test Takers

by Shelley Frost, studioD

Kids face a number of tests from elementary school through college such as standardized tests, skill assessments and end-of-chapter exams. Learning to take tests well at a young age helps your child perform better as he advances through his schooling. Some kids score low on tests even if they know the material, due to lack of preparation, test anxiety or failing to slow down and pay attention to the test questions. As a parent, you can teach your child test-taking skills and support his study habits to improve his test performance.

Talk to your child's teacher to get an idea of the types of testing he will face during the year. Find out when the school conducts standardized testing so your child is ready. Ask about the types of tests the teacher does in the classroom. If you know the teacher uses mainly multiple-choice tests, for example, you know your child needs to remember facts instead of general ideas, as he would need to write an essay.

Check with your child each week to determine if he has any upcoming exams. Some assessments, such as spelling tests, recur every week. Other tests are less predictable. Exams often happen at the end of a chapter or unit, but the length of chapters and units vary. Staying current on the upcoming exams,either by talking to your child or the teacher, helps you focus your child's studies.

Establish a bedtime that gives your child between 10 and 12 hours of sleep. Too little sleep can cause behavior problems, irritability or difficulty concentrating at school, according to Kids Health. If your child can't focus in the classroom, he may miss the information he needs to do well on exams. A lack of concentration on test day makes it difficult for him to read the test questions and choose the correct answer.

Feed your student a balanced diet that keeps him healthy and energized. If he is hungry or eats lots of junk food, he won't have the focus he needs on test day.

Schedule daily homework and study time so your child is in the habit of learning the material. By studying a little each day, you cut down on last-minute cramming for a test that is stressful on kids. Give your child a quiet space where he can spread out his work and have access to office supplies that he'll need such as pens.

Ask your child's teacher for practice tests, or make your own from the material in your child's textbooks. When creating homemade tests, use the same format that the teacher uses. If your child's history tests are short answer, come up with your own short answer questions. If his teacher requires him to write an explanation of his answer on his math tests, have him do the same at home.

Remind your child on test day to stay calm and focus on the material. Tell him to read through the entire question and all of the options before choosing an answer. Suggest rereading the questions and his answers if he finishes the test early.

Watch your reactions to your child's tests. If you place a lot of emphasis on scoring well, he may become anxious or upset before exams, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Review the tests your child takes at school with him. Help him find the correct answers to the problems he missed. Looking for patterns in the mistakes he makes helps him study in the future. For example, if he gets confused on true or false questions, practice more of those questions with him during his daily study sessions.

Items you will need
  •  Practice tests

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience come from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images