Help! My Kid is a Bad Test-Taker!
There is nothing more frustrating than knowing your kid is bright and capable, and not seeing those qualities reflected in their test scores. It can sound like a cop-out to repeatedly explain, “They just aren’t good at taking tests!” but you’re not alone in your feeling. Luckily, your child isn’t destined to be a bad test-taker forever! Instead, use the following tips & tricks to improve their study habits and become one of those good test-takers they’ve envied!
Don't let them do their homework on auto pilot.
Your child might be acing all of their homework assignments, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing it correctly. It’s easy to plug numbers into a formula or jot down definitions to vocab words, but they may not be absorbing any of it. Challenge your child to explain their homework assignment to you, and then make sure they read over their homework a few times once they’ve finished. Remind them that instead of just coasting through the assignment, they should try to store it into memory. In other words, doing your homework shouldn't be mindless! Instead of viewing homework like a necessary evil they just need to get done, they should view it as practice for the upcoming test.
Practice tests are their friend!
Speaking of practice, practice tests should be your kid’s very best friend. Often times, students will think they understand a concept, but when it’s time to apply said concept, all bets are off. The best way to make sure they understand a concept front to back is by testing them on the material before it actually counts. Have them take a few “practice tests” composed of questions from the textbook, homework questions, and so on. Simulate the same conditions they’ll have in the classroom during the real test (no notes, no book, etc.).
Pro Tip: You'd be amazed at what you can find online -- just Google "Macbeth Test pdf" and find a test that looks doable. (Sometimes teachers actually use these readily available online tests...)
Try to avoid cramming at all costs.
All of this studying shouldn’t be done the night before a test. It is impossible to store facts and concepts into long-term memory in one night! When your child receives their syllabus or learns of an upcoming test, put it on the calendar and make sure they start preparing at least a week out. If they study for a little bit each night, rather than studying a lot the night before, they’re more likely to remember the information long-term. That means they’re more likely to recall what they need on test day!
Figure out what study method works for them.
What worked for you might not work for them. What works for the rest of their class might not work for them. That’s okay! All you need to do is figure out what works for them, because if they're a bad test-taker, whatever they're doing isn't working! Maybe they learn best by listening - see if they can record class lectures to review before test day, or see if you can get their books on tape! Maybe color-coded flashcards helps them memorize information. Maybe they learn best by doing practice questions over and over or re-reading their class notes. Eventually, you’ll figure out which method helps them retain the information most effectively.
Have daily conversations about the material.
Have you ever read something, only to try to explain it to someone later and failed miserably? Well, you probably wouldn’t fare well on a test over that material! It’s important that your child has the opportunity to talk about what he or she is learning and reading. If they aren’t able to explain a concept to someone else, they don’t know it well enough to take a test on it. Have conversations about the historical events they’re learning about, the books they’re reading, and even the applications of the mathematical concepts they’re using. When they can discuss these things thoroughly and confidently, they’ll be able to ace a test on them.