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7 Test-Taking Skills To Teach Your Child

by Cindy Short and Sue Welch

There are specific skills and strategies involved in taking tests that can help your child do his best.

1. Directions

  • Always listen to and read the directions carefully; don’t assume that you already know them. Sometimes they change only slightly, but significantly, from one section to the next.
  • Ask the instructor to explain any directions that you do not understand.
  • Be sure you know how and where to mark the answers, especially if they are on a separate sheet. Keep checking to make sure you are marking the numbered answer space that matches the numbered question and for the correct test section (e.g., spelling, math computations).
  • Mark answers carefully and neatly, filling in the blanks completely so that it will be graded correctly.
  • Erase a wrong answer thoroughly when changing your answer.

2. Wording

  • Watch out for wording such as “Which of the following is not true?” or for answers that sound or look similar.
  • On a true or false question, watch for the words “never,” “always,” “only,” and “best.”

3. Morale

  • Relax by taking several slow, deep breaths and changing your position from time to time.
  • Remember that you know a lot of information and that you are doing your best to show what you know.
  • Ask the Lord to help you remember what you learned and do your best.

4. Pacing

  • Since most tests are timed, don’t get bogged down on a question that you can’t answer or are unsure about.
  • Answer the items you are sure of first. This builds confidence, and you won’t miss points on easy questions by running out of time.
  • Skip difficult questions and place an “x’ by the number of the question in the margin on the answer sheet.
  • If you are not sure of a question, answer the best you can and mark them with a “?” in the margin.
  • When you have answered all the other questions, answer the questions with an “x” in the margin and recheck questions you marked with a “?”.

5. Choosing Answers

  • If you need to, look back at the reading selection to check facts and ideas.
  • Try each answer in the blank to help you decide which one sounds right.
  • Sometimes on questions where you are to find mistakes, none are to be found.
  • On some questions, two answers can be correct and you must choose the answer that includes them both.
  • When you are not sure, eliminate answers you know are incorrect and take your best guess among the rest. Some of your guesses will be right.

6. Math

  • On arithmetic test items, do a quick estimate with rounded-off numbers. This will help you avoid “silly” mistakes and may even help you locate the only possible answer.
  • When you copy a math problem onto scratch paper, line up the numbers carefully and double check your copying.
  • Always check subtraction problems by reversing operations.
  • If you have time, check equations by substituting your solution for the unknown and check other math problems by reversing operations.

7. Timing

  • Use all the time allotted for the test; review your test if you finish early.
  • Recheck the directions, questions, and your answers.
  • Do not change answers unless they are obviously wrong.
  • Don’t panic when students start handing in their papers. There’s no reward for being the first.

Copyright 2008 by Reprinted by permission

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