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Test Prep?

Ahh, those dreaded words, “test prep”. They are words that are shunned “school-school” and are profanity in the homeschool.  Test prep.  Whoever thought of such a thing!?  The thought of teaching to a test…

Hear me out, though.  I see test prep as something completely different than teaching to a test. I see it as preparing our kids to TAKE the test.  Think about it.  Standardized testing has gotten a bit out of hand.  There are so many guidelines, rules, and directions today that never existed 10 years ago.  At some point, your child will leave your homeschool. Your child will most likely enter the workforce, enroll in college, or enlist in the military.  For most of those options, there will be a required test.  Perhaps it is the SAT, maybe the ACT, a driver’s license exam, or hunter’s education test, maybe even a placement test of some sort.

We do our kids a disservice if we do not teach them test-taking strategies and skills. If we want our kids to be fully prepared for whatever path they decide to take, we need to give them all of the tools necessary to be successful.

What are these strategies? I could write a whole series of posts on test-taking strategies!  I’ll narrow it down into my top 3:

1. Understand the format of the test.  Many companies and organizations offer practice tests online. Take them then take them again.  The more familiarized a student is with a certain test format, the less stress or test anxiety he will feel. Studies show that the more times a student takes a test, the more his test score will improve.  This is why kids take the SAT more than once – to get a better score.

2.  Understand how the test is scored as well as the required passing score. On some exams, students need to earn a certain percentage correct.  Other tests increase and decrease in difficulty depending on how the student performs (NWEA). Still, other tests have weighted questions that are scored differently than others. 

3. Show your work! I’m not sure why but I see a trend of kids trying to do math in their heads.  For simple computation exercises that may work but with more advanced math problems, it is virtually impossible to do so.  When students show their work they can also go back and check their work to make sure they are submitting a correct answer.

When my kids take a test, I want them to be successful.  I don’t want them to score poorly just because they did not know the format of the test.  That’s not fair.  I want them to be able to shine! Prepping them for the test gives them a bit of confidence and sets them up to be able to shine!

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