Here are a few quick test-taking strategies for kids to keep in mind as they prepare for the spring’s high-stakes tests:
1) Don't waste time or space on a fancy introductory sentence if the answer space is just a few lines. Spend all your effort and time on the support or details that prove you know the answer. Cut to the chase--make your first sentence very clear and direct and to the point.
2) Write neatly enough that someone other than you can read the answer.
3) Even if you aren't sure of the correct answer, don't leave the answer space blank. In math, explain what you did to try to figure it out-- your explanation of what you did to figure out the answer is part of what you get credit for. In reading, try to figure out what the question asks and write something down, even if you aren’t sure if your answer is right. For either test, partial credit is better than no credit!
4) If you are going to have to answer questions about a passage that you will read, glance over the questions really briefly before you read the passage. Then highlight, take notes, or underline things in the passage that may help you answer the question.
5) The space you are given to answer the question is a dead giveaway of how important (how many points) the question is worth.
6) Use the space you are given. If there are 11 lines for a short essay answer, then if you only use 3 lines, you can pretty much bet you won't get much credit. If there are 11 lines, the scorers expect a response that has some support from the text.
7) Less is often more--instead of 7 examples that are just a list with little support, two or three examples that have explanations show more depth of understanding.
8) Before you turn in the test, reread your responses quickly. You'd be surprised at the little mistakes you might be able to catch.
9) In the reading test, always use information or details from the passage in your answer. That's why it's called a "reading" test.
10) When you are doing one of the two writing tests, always keep in mind what they are scoring you on---WRITING! Make sure you use transitions, that you use elaboration and support.
11) Avoid the 5-paragraph organizational plan. Think instead of 1) a good introduction that gets the reader's attention and lets him know the point of your essay, 2) some very specific, well-detailed/elaborated support, held together with logical transitions, and 3) an ending of some sort (it doesn't need to be a summary ending).
12) Organization and development are the most important criteria for a good essay response.
13) Read the question very carefully before you start to answer it. Highlight or underline the words in the question that tell you what you need to do.
14. You are allowed to highlight or mark up the test booklet, so jot down any notes, highlight important words, underline possible support as you read. Just remember though, that you are only scored on what you write in the answer booklet.
15. Get a good night’s sleep!