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Tips for Preparing for and Taking Standardized Tests

There are ways you can prepare your students to do well on standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, AP tests, Golden State Exam, and, eventually, the High School Exit Exam. Student performance improves when students practice under conditions that are similar to those of the actual test.

Tips for Teachers

  • Simulate the test-taking situation , providing conditions that are almost equivalent to those of the actual test. Have a dress rehearsal.

  • Begin teaching test-taking skills well in advance of the test date .

  • Take time to discuss with students the general nature and purpose of standardized tests.

  • After instruction in a number of skills, have children take practice tests to combine the use of skills and to ensure maximum transfer to a testing situation. Practice materials should match the format of the standardized test as closely as possible . You don't have to invent your own materials. Commercial material is available that can be purchased using school site funds.

  • Practice using time limits under which children must complete a specified amount of work . If students have difficulty at first, start with untimed practice items. Gradually decrease the time.

  • Practice using test item formats that may differ from exercises found in students' instructional materials. Teach the style and format of the tests .

  • After each practice session, discuss with students any problems they had with specific items or the test-taking process and conditions. Talk about why some answers were correct and others were not.

Tips for Students

  • Tell students to read and follow test directions carefully. Older students should listen for information on time limits and penalties for guessing.

  • Students should record responses in the designated manner.

  • Use time efficiently. Students should answer first those items that they can answer quickly.

  • Tell students to take risks and guess if there is no penalty for incorrect responses.

  • Students should read all answers before choosing the "best" answer.

  • They should feel free to change an answer after considering new information.

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association