Preparing for Standardized Tests

For many schools, standardized test season is on the horizon. Even though a lot of schools test in the spring, the start of the new year is the perfect time to make sure everything is in order and your child has an opportunity to practice testing skills, if necessary. It is important to understand that standardized tests are only one measure of your child's academic achievement. While you don't want your child to feel unnecessary pressure and stress surrounding these tests, there are things you can do to prepare and make your child feel more comfortable.

Make Sure Accommodations Are In Place

If your child has a learning disability, standardized testing accommodations can help provide them with a more suitable testing environment. The most common accommodations for standardized tests are extended time, having questions read aloud, and testing in a 1:1 or small group setting. Remember, accommodations are only available to those students who have undergone a full psychoeducational evaluation. If this has already occurred, it will be important to check in with your child's teacher and/or learning specialist to ensure the evaluation is up to date and the necessary accommodations are in place. If you are in need of a full evaluation, Parallel is here to help you with this process. 


Review Test Taking Strategies

While many teachers will spend time reviewing test taking strategies with their classes, it might be helpful to provide your child with extra reminders. Some that you may want to review and practice at home or with a tutor are: 

  • Reading questions carefully
  • Looking for keywords such as 'never' and 'always'
  • Eliminating at least two obvious wrong answers
  • Moving at a steady pace*
  • Using all extra time to double check work

*Students will often move more quickly on computer-based tests. It is important that they slow down or use any extra time to carefully review work. 


Practice Test Like Questions

Some children may benefit from practice sessions which mimic the tests they might see. You will want to find out which testing format your child will be taking and practice accordingly. For online formats, there are programs such as IXL which mimic online, multiple choice questions. If your child is taking a paper-pencil test, you will want to make sure they feel comfortable bubbling in answers. There are many free, printable resources available online. Lastly, it is important to use timers to get your child accustomed to limited time frames that accompany standardized tests. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that sleep and diet are extremely important the week of testing. Furthermore, you want to make sure you are emphasizing your child's value outside of scores, so they aren't putting any additional pressure on themselves. Finally, when you receive your child's results, make sure to share and celebrate successes with your child. Also, with your child's teacher, look for any major problems or outliers that might indicate a need for further intervention and help. 


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