Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good age to start preparing my child for tests?

It’s never too early to start and you already have.  When you taught her colors, numbers, and even games, you are helping her prepare for future challenges.  Play games together, challenge her with mental math calculations, and read together.  Make learning fun.  Let her challenge you – and make mistakes.  Show her that you keep on trying even if you goof.

Are standardized tests fair?

Yes and no.  They are fair in that the tests are administered under the same requirements (time, space, bubble sheets, pencils, etc.) and are the same questions.  They are unfair in that not all students have been exposed to the same information.  For example, one class has covered all the multiplication tables and another class has not.  If multiplying 9 x 8 is required for a problem, students who haven’t learned that information are at a disadvantage.  This example is just one kind of potential deficit.  Data show that students in wealthy neighborhoods are ahead of students in low-income neighborhoods.

Can children improve their scores on standardized tests?

Just like anything we do in life, if we prepare and practice, we do better.  Becoming familiar with the test and the way test writers create tricky answers will help her avoid their traps.  [That’s why we wrote Becoming Test Savvy.]

How can I help my child deal with anxiety about tests?

First, assess your own attitude about standardized tests.  Do they make you anxious?  Are you anxious for your child?  If so, you are not alone, but you don’t want to transmit this anxiety to you child.  Think of the test as a challenging game for which you and your child can prepare.  Second, help your child to think of the test as a game:  sometimes he will get the right answer and sometimes he won’t, but that’s OK.  It’s not a teacher-made test.  He’s not trying to get a perfect score.  Taking off that pressure can make a big difference in his anxiety.