Testing of school children is a fact of life. We may not
agree with the purpose of giving these tests, but that does not
stop school systems from giving them. It, therefore, behooves
parents to prepare their children for testing.
Most teachers know the children in their class well enough
to be able to make recommendations to the teacher in the next
grade. They know what their students have accomplished that year
because they have been giving them teacher-made tests all during
the school year. These tests are usually low key and are given
at the end of units of study. Sometimes they can even be fun for
children to take if the teacher creates a relaxed atmosphere.
Children may get upset by the standardized achievement tests
given at the end of the school year, however. These tests come
with computer scoring sheets, and stop watches and time limits.
Children can sense that something is different because the
teacher reads the directions very carefully and the whole morning
or day is given over to the testing. Children may even be
separated or given seats different from the ones they have
occupied all year. There may be a feeling of tension in the air.
Many very good students do not do well in these situations.
The best way to help your children is not to be anxious
yourself. If you are calm and casual, your children will relax
too. Try not to interrogate them about the testing. They will
tell you in due time if they are upset. Your response then
should be that you are confident they did they best they could
and nobody expects any more than that of them.
If you have a child who does not do well on tests,however,
you might consider helping him learn some good test-taking
behaviors. For example, he should find out if he will be
penalized for guessing. If not, he should fill in all of the
blanks whether he knows the answer or not. It is okay to guess
and he should not feel badly if he does not know everything on
the test. Technically, he is not supposed to. He should learn
how to judge his time so that he gets to answer every question
on the computer scoring sheet. If he gets lost in space when
dealing with the computer scoring sheet, he should learn how to
use a marker.
If he does not understand the teacher’s directions,
encourage him to speak up. The teacher wants him to do well too
and is usually anxious to help. It is not helpful to tell your
child it is a game and will be fun. It is really not that much
fun and the child may misunderstand and decide not to play the
game or make it a game by marking the computer answer sheet in
the shape of a face or whatever.
Every high school student facing the SAT test should, at the
very least, read a good book on how to succeed taking this test
and he should start doing this as a high school freshman. One
good book is by Adam Robinson and John Katzman and is called
“Cracking the System.” Good couching courses like the Princeton
Review are also helpful. They do help raise scores and help
relax students especially those who are poor test takers.
The fact of the matter is, testing is here to stay probably
for a long time. You may as well get used to it and prepare your
children. If they become discouraged because of low scores, help
them discover why they did poorly and then together develop
options and techniques to solve the problem for the next time.
Be encouraging and keep testing in the proper perspective. This
attitude will help your children do the same.