Confident. Prepared. Relaxed. Well rested.  These are the traits of successful test-takers.  How can you ensure that your middle grader does his best on standardized tests?  Try these ideas to help before, during and after tests.


  • Understand the purpose.  Let him know that the tests measure how students in his school are doing compared with other schools and districts.  The test also shows areas he needs to work on and how his skills change over time.
  • Use practice sheets.  Standardized test require separate answer sheets with small circles to be filled in with pencil.  Filling in the circles quickly and efficiently is tough for many children.  It’s important for him to completely erase answers he changes and to avoid stray marks.
  • Get in shape.  Two essential ingredients for successful test taking are a good night’s rest and a healthy breakfast.  A well-balanced breakfast will give him energy on test day.  Be careful he doesn’t eat more food than normal—being too full can make him sluggish.
  • Follow directions.  Encourage your middle grader to read all directions slowly and carefully.  Have him circle or underline important words. If he is confused about what to do, tell him to ask the teacher or test administrator right away.
  • Use time wisely.  At the beginning of each section, your child should scan all the questions.  That will give him some idea of how much time to spend on each one.
  • Read every answer.  It’s often tempting for test-takers to read multiple-choice questions and mark their answers immediately.  The best approach is to read the question and all the answers.  Then go back and select the best one.
  • Make good guesses.  On most standardized tests, it’s better to guess at an answer than to leave it blank.  Coach your middle grader to cross off answers he’s sure are wrong.  That way he can improve his chances of choosing the right answer.  Remind him not spend too much time on particularly hard questions.  If he’s completely unsure, he should make his best guess and move on.
  • Stay in order. One mistake many students make is getting the questions and answers out of order.  Encourage your youngster to keep his place on the answer sheet with a piece of blank paper.  He can slide the paper down to reveal one row of circles at a time.
  • Check answers.  If your middle grader reaches the end of a section with time left, he should go back and check his answers.  Some test-takers circle difficult questions as they work so they can easily find them later.
  • Celebrate.  Finishing a standardized test is an accomplishment.  Give your child plenty of time to relax and wind down.  Taking the test requires a lot of mental energy!  Consider treating him to a special meal or video rental.  It’s important to tell him how proud you are of his hard work.
  • Share the results.  When you receive a copy of your child’s scores, make sure you understand what they mean.  Scores are often reported in percentiles and can be confusing, so ask his teacher for help.  Talk with your middle grader about the areas he did well in and any he needs to work on.  He will probably be very curious and may ask lots of questions.  Remind him that standardized tests are a tool to help students learn.

Source: : Middle Years (c) 2003 Resources for Educators, a division of Aspen Publishers, Inc