Test Taking Best Practices

Test Taking Best Practices 

For Students and Parents 

What is a Test? 

General definition for purposes of a test: 

  • The purpose of classroom testing is to assess what students have learned after the completion of a lesson or unit (over several weeks/months). 


Definition of a test: 

  • A test or examination is an educational assessment intended to measure a test-taker's knowledge, skill, aptitude, or classification in many topics/subjects. A test may be administered verbally, on paper, on a computer, or in a predetermined area that requires a test taker to demonstrate or perform a set of knowledge/skills. 

Can the questions on a test be predicted? 


  • Yes, no, or maybe …? 


  • Or is the better question … How can the questions on a test be predicted? 

  • No one can predict 100% exactly what will be on a test, but if you can over prepare a little, than getting closer to that 100% is more possible. 

  • Preparing for a test is a process, the better you follow the process the higher the chance of getting a higher grade. 

Difference between Knowledge and Skills 


  • “Knowledge refers to learning concepts, principles and information regarding a particular subject(s) by a person through books, media, encyclopedias, academic institutions and other sources. ... Skill refers to the ability of using that information and applying it in a context.” 

Knowledge, Skills, Competence 


  • Knowledge = Ability to understand and recall information. 

  • Skills = Ability to perform an activity with proficiency. 

  • Competence = Combination of skills and knowledge applied in context to achieve a desired outcome. 

Applying knowledge and test-taking skills 

  • Once knowledge is acquired, test taking skills are needed to apply that knowledge to the context of the questions on a test. 

Test-taking Step 1 – Health 

  • Get enough sleep for weeks prior to test, not just the night before test. 

  • Good nutrition/food, not too much sugars, etc. Understand what food help you feel better, centered, calmer, and allow you to enjoy the learning/questions/answers process. 

- Eat healthy snacks like peanuts while studying, with low/no sugar. 

  • Times of days/weekend that you have more energy, calmer, etc. to study, learn, ask questions. 

  • Water – drink plenty. Water and food help increase memory. Minimize substituting sugary drinks for water. 

  • Stress – easier said than done. Lower the stress, the higher the memory retention, higher the stress the lower the memory. Lower the stress, faster memory recall. 

Test-taking Step 2 – Organized 

  • If you count the time throughout the day, see how much time you spend looking for things, vs. time spent understanding things. 

  • The more time spent understanding things, and less time spent looking for things, then memory/recall increases and ability to take tests increases. 

  • Have materials and resources available

- School supplies - pencils, paper, etc.
- Quiet area
- Desk, chair, good lighting

Test-taking Step 3 – Study Skills 

  • See what studying techniques help retain more information, reduce stress, and increase the fun of learning. 

  • Home culture that fosters a learning mindset 

  • Schedule designated  times to study 

  • Set designated place(s) to study 

  • Model organizational skills at the parents level 

  • Breaking large tasks into smaller steps, and in which order to do the steps/tasks 

Test-taking Step 4 – Purpose of your own questions 

  • What’s always on tests? …. Questions! 

  • Ask your own hard questions, try to make them harder than what may be on test 

  • Questioning mindset 

  • Identify, copy, write down, circle the hard questions that you come across throughout the semester, homework assignments, quizzes/tests, books, class notes, etc. 

- So when it’s time to prepare for a test, start by answering these hard questions first identified throughout the weeks, and answering questions that were incorrect in the past, etc. Then answer questions you think/predict will be on the upcoming test. 

  • The earlier the questions are asked, the better chance or knowing the answers with quicker memory recall in time for a test. 

  • Try to put yourself in the teachers shoes, try learning the subject materials from a teacher’s perspective. 

Test-taking Step 5 – Parents as Learning Facilitators 

  • Roll of parents and the learning process 

  • Demonstrate listening skills 

  • Remove negative/inaccurate labels, don’t use put-down words 

  • Say What To Do (this is what leaders/facilitator-parents do), minimize saying What Not To Do. 

  • Demonstrate Questioning mindset 

  • Demonstrate what Resilience is, and capitalizing on “failures” before and after a test 

  • Acknowledge that no one knows everything, but the main things in our control is working to improve, good attitude, making a good effort, and measuring your own progress/goals too. 

  • Place reading materials in the home for students to find and ask questions about; i.e. books, articles, magazines, etc. 

- Could also be items that you are interested in that you’d like to converse with your child with. 

Critical Thinking – Socratic Method of teaching/ facilitating 

  • What is critical thinking, how does it relate to test taking? 

  • The more we think and ask questions, the more and quicker we remember/recall. 

  • Critical thinking definition: Per   

- “Critical thinking is that mode of thinking — about any subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.” 

- The oldest, and still the most powerful, teaching tactic for fostering critical thinking is Socratic teaching. Socratic teaching focus on giving students questions, not answers. 


Test-taking Steps – Summary  

  • Parents can also learn these 5 steps, learn the skills to be better learning facilitators. Minimize being an instructor only, help students go through questions/answers process that lead to the answer. 

- Noting that sometimes it’s completely okay to give an answer right away, but not every time. 

  • Parents can demonstrate questioning/learning/curiosity mindset, by answering questions with another question that helps students get closer to the answers; while at the same time the students feel like they also figured it out on their own. 


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