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Building Better Test Scores

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My daughter will enter high school in the fall. She always has a difficult time with test taking and did not do well on the placement tests. She will be in the lowest level (or very close to it) in her math class. What areas should I work on with her this summer? I am a fifth-grade teacher.

A: As a teacher, you are aware that your daughter has difficulty taking tests; however, she may also be having difficulty with some math concepts. This summer, you must see that she gets help in both areas. It is not always easy to work with your own child. If it does not go smoothly, she can receive the help she needs from a learning center or private tutor.

Begin to help your daughter improve her test-taking skills by analyzing where she is having problems. If she has tests from last year, you might look them over together. Consider these questions: How well does she know the subject matter? Is she familiar with the test format? Does she have poor skills in answering test questions, or does she suffer from test anxiety?

You may find it helpful to use a study-skills book with your daughter in finding ways to improve her test-taking skills. If your daughter's problem is not knowing the material, work on teaching her how to study for tests. Do point out that most teachers explain exactly what will be covered on tests. If she doesn't know how to handle different test formats or how to answer different types of questions, work with her on practice tests similar to those that she will take at school. As your daughter begins to learn how to handle tests, her confidence should increase and any test anxiety that she has will decrease.

Since most standardized tests tend to be multiple choice, you should teach your daughter the following tricks: (1) Think of the answer to a question before looking for it on the test. (2) Eliminate answers that don't form grammatically correct sentences. (3) Choose one of two answers if they are very similar except for one or two words.

As far as your daughter's math skills go, determine if she any specific weaknesses. Then use your teaching skills to improve these areas.

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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