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Test day: Getting ready for testing

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22, 2015 15:18 PM

Many states are currently kicking off their Common Core State Standards testing, and more states will begin testing students for the 2014-2015 school year in the coming weeks. Teachers across the country have been working all year to ready students for the State Standards tests, which means their pupils should have all the mathematics and English/language arts knowledge they need to succeed. During the days and weeks leading up to the exam, Standards-based practice tests and other review assignments can come in handy to help students understand the format and content they should expect. But there are some things students and their parents can do on the actual test day to get prepared. Here's a guide for how grade schoolers can get ready to take the Common Core-aligned exam on the day of the test:

Sleep well
Research shows that a good night's sleep is vital for cognitive functioning. In fact, a study published in 2013 by the Journal of Child Development found that students who sacrifice sleep to study more typically do worse on tests and assignments the following day. Sleep recharges the brain, so grade schoolers of any age should make sure they sleep well the evening before the State Standards test.

Testing can be a huge source of anxiety for many children and teenagers, and it can actually cause them to score lower on the exam. Stress and anxiety create physiological changes in the body that alter the way the brain works, according to PBS. That's why it's so important for students to stay calm and relaxed in a test-taking environment. Help your son or daughter de-stress on the morning of the test by staying positive and offering encouragement. If you notice they're getting stressed, teach them strategies (like deep breathing or counting to 10) to help them relax before or during the exam.

Trying to cram information last minute isn't a good idea, but if there are certain mathematical, reading or writing skills or concepts your child has trouble with, it can be helpful to review those. Spend only a small amount of time reviewing to avoid adding to your child's stress or anxiety.

Eat breakfast
A protein-rich breakfast is important for keeping the brain engaged and boosting energy levels for several hours. Look to breakfast items like peanut butter, eggs, sausage and bacon and pair them with complex carbs and fruit. If you're in a hurry, a piece of peanut butter toast or a Greek yogurt parfait can be eaten quickly and on the go.

Dress comfortably
Dressing in comfortable and simple clothing will help your elementary, middle or high schooler relax a bit more on test day. 

Arrive early and prepared
Avoid extra stress by showing up early and coming prepared. Common Core-aligned assessments are computer-based, but students should still bring basic school supplies and a book (or another activity) they can read during any down time.

Use the restroom before taking the test
Before the test begins, students should use the restroom. The State Standards tests are timed, so having to use the restroom could make it harder to complete the exam, and bathroom breaks can cause disruptions for other students as well.

Remember test-taking basics
Review some test-taking basics with your son or daughter before school so that they'll be fresh in his or her mind during the test. Here are a few tips:

  • Read instructions thoroughly before answering a question
  • Read every option in a multiple choice question before answering
  • Don't spend too much time on a single answer - it's better to move on, and return to it if there's still time
  • Remember to take deep breaths if you're beginning to feel stressed
  • Remain positive, and don't forget to ask for help if you need it