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PixieLittle

Test-taking skills - when?

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At what age should test-taking skills be studied in earnest?

DS8 is doing standardized testing this week, and I’ve noticed he’s making many careless mistakes. In our normal days, I would say “Double check your answer for #5,” or something like that and he’d easily find the right solution. But you can’t do that during testing. 

Is it worth setting aside time at this age specifically for studying how to take tests? Or does that make more sense at a later age? What age? Certainly by high school, but how much before?

I was feeling good about this year until this darn test 😕

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I don't know.  I don't teach test taking strategies until late middle school or when the PSATs come around, but I do use standardised tests in elementary.  I just use them for a benchmark.  Around late elementary we start transferring responsibility of work, so he practices with the same checklist:
rework the problem backward or say it again in your head to make sure it makes sense.  Check to see that each question was answered.  Check that your name/date is on the test. 

Starting around 3rd/4th I'll hold a paper or quiz back, return it the next day, and ask him to grade it. This brings his attention to the need to double check the first time around.

For the most part, though, I use elementary standardised tests as a way to see where my kid is at.  Is he having a problem with the material or a problem with the procedure?  And we just work on whatever it is the next year.

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That makes sense, HomeAgain. It's more a matter of getting him to care about getting things right the first time.

I like your checklist, and I’ll try having him grade his work occasionally like you suggested. Thank you.

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We started around 8 y.o with low stakes, no pressure tests. .  Math Kangaroo for 3rd grade I think was the first.  The early levels of Kangaroo are similar to Singapore Math and word problems.  

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We just took the nwea map test with literally zero prep. They were a grade level ahead and probably would have done better with some prep. 

If you want to focus on test taking, I think ctc has some books specifically geared toward those skills.

 

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I only did this test because my state requires one annually. So yeah, we’re not doing tests/quizzes really during our regular learning. 

I think firstly I need to chill out, and then work on giving him more opportunities to work independently and learn to take pride in work well done. Or at least more carefully done!

Thank you all for considering my troubles and giving suggestions. 

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I can relate to this!  My 7 year old just took his first standardized test (also required in our state).  It was so painful to watch him get things wrong that I know he knew.  Our scores ended up way better than I anticipated, though, so hopefully that's the case for you too.  After the test I sat down with him and (gently) went over the ones he got wrong so he could see some of the silly mistakes-mostly not fully reading the question.  My friend always does a pretest with her kiddos, and I think I'm going to do the same next year.  I'm also thinking that maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to give a small test on history or science periodically next year-nothing too serious, but just enough to get a sense of what tests are and how to succeed at them.

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My DS13 did test prep when he wanted badly to improve his SAT score. My kids did yearly state testing when they were in public school and we didn’t prep since the passing bar for those were low. Coming from an academic pressure cooker country, I am happy my kids didn’t need to go through high stakes tests (streaming/ability grouping) in elementary school.

As for careless mistakes, it’s a balance here for my kids. My DS13 can do work with no mistakes but take at least three times the amount of time that DS14 took. On a timed test, getting 1/3 completed is worse than getting more than 90% correct. It is easy for me to give DS14 his work back and tell him to check his entire work for mistakes since he works fast. Work would never be completed if I ask DS13 to check his entire work, I have to tell him the question number (multiple parts question) and he can check the entire question.

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Critical Thinking Company's Thinking Skills for Tests: Upper Elementary is a low pressure way to prepare for standardized tests. It is especially good if you have a child who is anxious about taking timed tests. 

If you think the problem is just format, find some sample tests online.  A week or two before the test, spend 15-30 minutes a day for a few days on test taking skills.

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