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"I tell my students that it is important for them to come to school with their 'A' game. That means come having had a full night's sleep, a good, healthy breakfast and a positive attitude." — Tonya Breland
By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff
For multiple-choice questions students should learn how to eliminate the wrong answers and choose the answer that makes the most sense. If there are bubbles to fill in, your child should become familiar with the best way to fill them in (i.e. completely fill the bubble but don't go too much outside the lines). Students should also know if there is a penalty for guessing and if there is not they can learn strategies for making educated guesses.
"I always tell my students the following: Guessing is not guesswork!" says Jennifer Thompson, a reading specialist and award-winning teacher. "It is a good idea. Even if you have no idea, you still have a 25% chance of getting the question right. If you can narrow your choices down even further, your chance of getting the question correct increases. For example: Say you have four answer choices and you can eliminate two of them, you now have a 50% chance of getting it correct!"
Many tests have reading passages followed by questions about the passage. When answering questions, students should learn how to look for the main idea and supporting ideas in the passage. Students should be reminded to look back in the passage for information. These reading-comprehension skills are in most language arts standards and apply not only to test taking but to all reading material.
The teacher should be teaching strategies that will help your child write a cohesive essay. Students should be taught how to write an outline to help organize their thoughts for a three-paragraph essay. They should then be encouraged to write an outline during the test and proofread their work.
Students should know what is expected of them in their writing. Rubrics - guidelines which tell students what makes an excellent, good, satisfactory or unsatisfactory essay - are tools that help students to do their best work. The teacher may use samples of essays and have students help grade them using rubrics. The goal is to give students a clear understanding of what is expected.
Here are sample writing rubrics by grade level from the Edmund Public Schools in Oaklahoma. If your state uses rubrics to assess students on statewide tests, your school should be using them. Some states use different scoring rubrics at different grade levels. As a parent you should be seeing the rubrics come home with your student's work. If not, ask for copies.
Students should be told if the state test is timed or not. If the state test is timed, students should have ample opportunities in the classroom to take timed tests in different subject areas. It is important for your child to learn pacing and time management skills. Students should learn tips, such as answering the questions first that are easy for them, and then going back to answer questions that are more difficult. If students have extra time, they should be encouraged to check to make sure they have answered every question. "Kids are kids and they often skip questions on the state test without meaning to," says Kathy Rank, a fourth-grade teacher and Ohio's Teacher of the Year. "If you ask a student if he checked over his work, he would most likely reply 'yes.' However, our test analysis showed that a few questions were skipped.
"I teach my students to systematically touch each question and the corresponding answer in numerical order when they are finished testing. As they touch the question, they count quietly out loud......1, 2, 3 etc. It's amazing how many times you hear, 'Oh, I didn't know I skipped that one.' This strategy is only effective when it is part of the daily routine with both assignments and classroom tests. Touching each question and answer becomes a habit rather than just something to do on a test."
Parents of students in grades 3-6 can use homework as practice for timed tests by setting up "no-stakes" timed situations at home on occasion. This is a great time-management technique for children and will also help to prepare them for the timed state tests.
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