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Helping Your Child Prepare for Tests

Elementary school children writing in class

12 Tips to Help Your Child Do Well on Tests

Other than making sure your child gets plenty of study time to prepare for a test, are there specific things that you and he or she can do, to insure they do their best on a test?

Yes, according to the United States Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement. We list 12 basic tips offered by the Dept. of Education, which will help your child prepare for tests and achieve good results:

  1. Make sure that your youth has a quiet, comfortable place where s/he can study at home: it is important for them to avoid distractions such as a television, younger siblings making noise and so forth.
  2. Insure child gets enough sleep on school nights: sleeping enough is one of the most essential things for your child’s overall well-being, including their capacity to learn and focus. A well-rested student will be more alert, have better memory and enjoy learning more than a child who isn’t getting enough sleep. How do you know if they are sleeping enough? Simple: if you or an alarm clock has to wake them up in the morning, they didn’t sleep enough. A child of 6-8 years needs about 11 hours of sleep a night; a child of 9-10 needs about 10 hours. Teenagers need about 9 hours. The sleeping environment should be quiet and dark. Noise coming from a TV, radio or elsewhere will diminish the quality of sleep and make a person feel groggy the next day. Similarly, light will reduce sleep quality, even when the light is dim.
  3. Insure your child has good school attendance: the more engaged he or she is in academics, the more likely they will be to absorb material that will be covered in tests.
  4. See that your child eats a healthy, balanced diet, as a rule: a healthy diet is important for all of us; it affects many of the body’s processes, including how well our brains can function. See that your child gets a good balance of proteins (dairy products, meats, whole grains), complex carbohydrates (these are found in fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains, oatmeal) and fats (found in whole or low-fat dairy, meats , fatty fish and nuts). Most American diets don’t contain enough fruits, vegetables and other sources of fiber; so, it is important to make an effort to have these present in meals. (Fruits and vegetables are also a great source of many key nutrients.) For example, chopped fresh vegetables go great with scrambled eggs for breakfast; fruits are healthy snacks; raw or lightly steamed vegetables and salads go well with lunch or dinner. Most schools offer free breakfast and lunch to children of low-income families; talk to your child’s school’s office staff if you think you may qualify for the program.
  5. Review report cards and attend parent/teacher meetings: these are good ways to keep tabs on the subjects that your child may need to invest extra effort on. You can get tips from teachers on activities you and your child can do at home, to enhance your child’s learning.
  6. Use positive reinforcement to encourage learning: don’t judge your child too harshly, and don’t become overly upset if they don’t do well on one test. Instead, make positive comments about the class subjects at which your child does well, and simply work on improving areas where they are not doing so well. Sometimes, it happens that a particular teacher may not be so good at teaching. That can affect a child’s performance, as well, and a lower grade in that class does not necessarily indicate a deficiency in your child.
  7. Teach kids the importance of learning over time: if left to themselves, many students may be tempted to neglect their studies during the semester (in favor of talking and hanging out with friends, watching television, etc.) — then, they try to cram all the information in on the night before a test. This is very unwise because it’s not true learning; when a lot of information is absorbed in a short period of time, it will not be recalled as well as when it is learned gradually. Even if they may remember a lot of the information when they take the test, they are not as likely to remember it after the test. It is important, then, to space out studying and do reading assignments over time.
  8. Buy or check out books and magazines from local libraries: by encouraging a variety of reading, your child will explore areas that might interest them; they will also improve their vocabulary, which will help when taking tests.
  9. Child should remain calm at test time: becoming anxious before a test may decrease the child’s ability to recall information; therefore, advise your son or daughter to take a few deep breaths before starting the test, try to stay calm and think positive. Of course, remaining calm will be much easier if the student spent enough time preparing for the test. They should take a quick look through the whole test, to see what types of questions are included (multiple choice, true/false, essay, matching, math problems); this will help them pace themselves.
  10. If they don’t know an answer, they should go to the next question: this avoids getting stuck on a question and losing valuable time. Once they have completed the test, they can then go back to any questions that they did not answer.
  11. Use flashcards and index cards: these can be a handy, useful way to memorize information such as meanings of words, science questions, history questions and so forth.
  12. Use a whiteboard and dry-erase marker: these can be great for math problems — easier to erase and saves paper.

By Cynthia Sanchez. A graduate of the University of Washington, Cynthia has extensive experience writing about health and wellness topics for different media.

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