Well, it's that season again! Star test/CST, Benchmarks, SAT... it seems like there are an endless supply of ways to test the kids. Sometimes, they seem redundant. I know the students are tired of all these tests and it is hard to keep them motivated through the spring. In the classroom, we try to keep stressing the importance of these tests to show how much they have improved from the last year. Often times, the test can mean the difference between having 1 or 2 classes of English (in high school).
There is a push to teach kids strategies for test taking instead of teaching some much of the material. Many times, students get frustrated because they think they do no understand what the question is asking. Here are just a few tips that I often hear teachers say in class:
1) Take your time! read and re-read the question
2) When there are long passages, read the questions first then find the answers in the reading. You can save yourself a lot of time that way.
3) Please, use your context clues. Circle them if you need to. This can help you determine the meanings of words you don't recognize.
4) Eliminate the answers you know are not correct. If you can get them down to two options, you have a 50/50 chance of getting the right answer. That is much better than taking an uneducated guess.
5) Calm down and use your common sense. That of course is a questionable technique, depending on the student and their level of 'common sense'. :)
However, what it means is to quiet yourself and create an internal dialogue. Talk about what you know or have learned and use that to help you eliminate answers.