Although educators and administrators continue to debate the actual value of tests and examinations, testing has become an intrinsic part of the American education system.
Neither students nor parents can escape the reality of exams, and continuing academic success largely depends on managing test anxiety and learning how to adequately prepare for exams. But, that’s not the only factor. Doing homework assignments and participating in class help testing proficiency, too.
“Make sure your child completes homework assignments and class projects,” says Richard Bavaria, Ph.D., senior vice president for education outreach at Sylvan Learning (www.SylvanLearning.com). “Because tests reflect overall achievement, the more effort your child puts into learning, the more likely he or she will do well on tests.”
Here are some other test-prep tips for both parents and students from Dr. Bavaria:
* Know the target. Make sure that you understand exactly what is being assessed, how it is being assessed (types of questions) and how it will be graded.
* Use a study process. Test preparation and studying should be an ongoing process. Ideally, students should spend 15 minutes per night studying content from each school subject, in addition to any nightly homework.
* Use strategies to manage test anxiety. A little test anxiety can be helpful, but too much can have an adverse effect on test performance. In order to manage test anxiety, make sure to be prepared, and use breathing and visualization techniques to work through the process.
* Follow test instructions. While taking a test, make sure to pay close attention to test- and question-specific instructions. Circle key words to make sure that all responses/answers address all parts of the question. When in doubt, ask the teacher to clarify.
* Use a process to organize schoolwork and a study area. Being organized helps students access all materials when they are needed. A clean, quiet study area also helps students focus.
* Support learning preferences. Identify learning preferences, whether auditory, tactile or visual. Keep them in mind when studying to help with difficult subjects.
* Use appropriate strategies to address different question types. Knowing what types of questions will be on the test helps determine what and how students should study. Find out what kinds of questions will be used, be it multiple-choice, short-answer, true/false, matching or essays, and prepare appropriately.