Tuesday, February 25

Testing in High School & College (Study Skills)

Even if you know the material and are prepared for your test, it's completely normal to experience test anxiety.  In fact, to a degree, anxiety helps you perform better on the test!  However, too much can prevent you from doing your best...

Look for more in-depth discussion of this topic and more in Through the Door: Homeschool to College Success! This book & worktext set will help you and your high school student breeze through the steps of college and scholarship applications, as well as brushing up on study habits and life skills. The worktext includes activities, worksheets, and planning pages, and accompanies the book.

In Through the Door, we do an in-depth examination of the various placement tests - SAT, ACT, CLT, ASVAB - and college credit tests such as CLEP and AP, with test-specific strategies for tackling each!

Strategies for Test Types:

True / False
  • These questions often contain clues to help determine the answer.
  • There are few absolutes in world, so words like all, always, every, only, none, and never will usually indicate that answer is false.
  • True statements tend to have words like some, usually, seldom, sometimes, probably, mainly, often, except, and rarely.
  • The order of the statement matters.  The facts might be accurate, but if the order is wrong, then it is false.  (eg, The president following Herbert Hoover was Calvin Coolidge.)
  • One trick used is the negative statement, where one word makes the difference.   (eg, The Nazi party 'did not' send Jews to concentration camps during WW2  -- as opposed to they 'did.')
  • If any part of a statement is false, then it is false.  The whole thing must be true to be marked true.
Multiple Choice
  • Read the question and attempt to answer it before reading the answer choices.  Is your answer one of the choices?  If so, it's probably right.
  • Eliminate answers that you know for sure are wrong -- narrow down the field.
  • Look for negative questions (see true/false above); they might try to trick you.
  • Make an educated guess based on what's left. (Very rarely, you are penalized for guessing wrong - like on the sat - but most likely not in the classroom.)
  • If bubbling in answers on a test form - MAKE SURE YOU PUT THE ANSWER IN THE RIGHT PLACE.  For real.
Fill in the Blank
  • If you're not sure, leave it blank.  Continue reading through test, and you might find the answer somewhere else!
  • Also, another question further down may jog your memory.
  • If provided with a word bank, do all of the ones that you know for sure.  (Mark them out once used.) Make an educated guess about the couple that are remaining after this.
  • Don't leave anything empty.  At least try to answer it, and you might get partial credit.

SchoolhouseTeachers has many excellent course offerings, including test prep, for high school.  We have used their website for several years and love it!  They also have courses for parents, a print magazine, and extra goodies and giveaways just for their subscribers.  You can try them out for only $5 - with complete access to everything on the site - to see if it's a good fit for your family.  Two good places to start are High School Courses and High School Help.

Let's look at ten ways to help you beat test anxiety:
  1. Study your old tests.  Do you know how to use your old tests as a type of cheat sheet?  Learn strategies for putting those old tests to work for you in Through the Door!
  2. Come prepared.  If you've studied, you'll be less anxious about how to answer the questions.  Have questions?  Don't wait until the last day to ask for assistance from a teacher, or even research your answer online (remember to use legitimate sources).  Finally, remember to bring the right tools for the test....calculator, scratch paper, lots of #2 pencils....having the right tools is part of preparedness!
  3. But don't cram.  If you stay up all night before the test trying to study everything at the last minute...that's not going to turn out well.  You'll be physically and mentally tired going into the test, and cyclical studying (going over the same topics several time over the course of your semester) helps to imprint the material into your brain.  Study at a steady pace all the way through your course.
  4. Stay positive.  Imagine yourself doing well on the test, and it will boost your confidence.  Dwell on thoughts of doing poorly, and it will dramatically increase your anxiety.  That's pretty simple and straightforward, right?  Go to your happy place...
  5. Frankie says, Relax.  If you got that tagline, you're probably the parent of someone preparing for a test.  Help your son or daughter to stay relaxed by focusing on things other than the test in the few days prior to a big one (such as the ACT).  Students should also learn to do deep breathing -- when they hit a snag during the test, they can zone out for just a second to take some relaxing breaths and refocus on the task at hand.
  6. Go with your gut.  Don't spend too much time on a single test question.  Choose the answer that you think is best, and then move on.  No idea?  Mark that question as one to return to later.  Revisit those questions at the end of the test if you have some time left.
  7. Check your work.  If you finish the test with time to spare, go through and look for any questions that are missing answers.  Complete those, and then look for any mistakes.  Do not overthink the questions, and be very sure that your first answer was wrong before changing answers.
  8. Exercise.  Keeping yourself physically fit actually helps you to stay mentally fit.  It also reduces anxiety.  Don't have time to exercise?  Take your book to the gym and read while you use a cardio machine!
  9. Sleep.  This goes hand in hand with 'no cramming.'  When you sleep well before a test, for several nights prior, you'll have less fatigue and less anxiety, which leads to more confidence!
  10. Eat.  Never test hungry.  This depletes your physical energy and your brain functioning.  If your stomach is in knots just thinking about the test, then have a granola bar or something light.  Try to include both protein and carbs to prevent blood sugar dips mid-testing.  If your test is long and the site allows, bring a healthy snack.  Consider this - how many bad decisions have been made when someone was very hungry and / or tired?

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