As we enter the “stretch run” of our school year, a host of standardized tests awaits our student body. In the next two few weeks, our school will tackle several state tests, starting with the FSA reading assessment on Wednesday and Thursday.
It’s easy to think that it doesn’t matter what you do on each test, but every assessment is an important tool that helps show how much you have grown in the past year. That’s why it’s important to do whatever you can to prepare yourself in advance, and equally important to use solid strategies during the tests to improve your chances for scoring well. Here are some things to remember before you take each test:
Get plenty of rest. If you drag yourself into the testing classroom after a near-sleepless night, you’re almost ensuring that you won’t do your best that day. Do yourself a favor – turn in as early as possible the night before each test so that you’ll wake up as fresh as possible.
These tests are important, but life won’t come to an end on our planet if you don’t get a record score. Your best chance for a good score won’t come if you’re stressing out over every question. Instead, you improve your odds when you just relax and answer the questions using the tips and strategies you’ve been learning all year.
Read everything. That means everything. The prompts. The passages. The questions. The answers. All of these things were written for a reason, so you’ll be wise if you actually read them. This is especially important for any test that has a lot of written passages, such as the FSA reading assessment. Read the entire passage first and then read the questions and answers. Your chances of answering questions correctly improve a lot when you carefully read and don’t just “blow through” the test in record time.
Answer the “easy” ones first. If you find a question that seems too hard to answer easily, go on to the next question and come back to the hard ones later. Too many students spend so much time on the most difficult questions that they run out of time at the end and wind up “Christmas-treeing” their test in the last few minutes. Don’t let that be you.
There’s no penalty for guessing (but there is a penalty for not answering). If you can’t decide on an answer for a question, go ahead and make an educated guess. If you get it wrong, that’s OK. You’ll at least give yourself a chance by answering something. On the other hand, if you skip the question and don’t answer it, you’re guaranteed to get it wrong.
Double-check your answers. If you have time left after answering everything, take some time to review the test to make sure you answered the way you wanted to. Most students have plenty of time to finish the tests, so don’t waste it by racing through so you can take a mid-morning nap. Be smart with your time and use it to ensure you gave the best answers possible.
Stay positive. You’ve been learning these concepts all year, so the knowledge you need is in there. (That is, it’s somewhere inside your mind.) You simply need to bring it to the surface and use it to answer some questions. You have this, and you’re going to do a great job. Just make certain to use these tips to give yourself the best chance possible to prove how much you’ve learned.