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Inconsistent Test Scores

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

Q: My 13-year-old eighth grader gets very inconsistent test grades. She does well in everything except on quizzes and tests. She can get a 90 and then a 65 in the same subject. I am very frustrated and don't know whether there is a problem that I am not addressing or what to do to help her. Thanks for any advice you can give.

A: Some children become skilled test takers much faster than others do. Much of the secret lies in knowing how to prepare for tests. Have your daughter take the following quiz to see exactly what her test-taking abilities are right now.

  1. Are you beginning to learn new material during class?
  2. Are you keeping up with your classwork and homework?
  3. Are you outlining or taking notes when you read textbooks and do you listen in class?
  4. Do you follow a study schedule?
  5. Are you reviewing frequently for each class?
  6. Are you listening carefully when the teacher describes what will be on a test?
  7. Are you studying what you don't know rather than what you already know?
  8. Are you learning the key terms in chapters in preparation for tests?
  9. Are you reading summaries and answering all end-of-the chapter questions before tests?
  10. Are you spending enough time studying for tests?

After your daughter has completed the quiz, you will both have a good understanding of how well she is preparing for tests. Any questions that she answered "no" are areas that you can work on with her.

Once your daughter has learned how to prepare for tests, success is not guaranteed unless she really knows how to take tests. Have her answer the following questions to see if she is doing all the right things whenever she takes a test:

  1. Are you arriving in class early with the correct supplies on test days?
  2. Are you staying calm during tests?
  3. Are you looking over the entire test before starting it?
  4. Are you reading each set of directions carefully?
  5. Are you budgeting your time during the test?
  6. Are you answering the questions you know first?
  7. Are you checking your answers when you have time?

The final step in being a successful test taker is to analyze all returned tests. Your daughter needs to find the answers to all missed questions and to discover what kind of errors she is making. This way she will be able to avoid mistakes in the future.

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 FamilyEducation.com 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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