How to Prepare Kids to Take Standardized Tests

Reality check: Most kids don't smile while taking standardized tests at school. . (Photo: Syda Productions/Shutterstock)

If there is one thing that parents around the country agree on, it's that standardized tests are hard on kids. These stressful, high-stakes exams can last for hours or even days, and with so much riding on their scores (such as school budgets and teacher contracts) it's no wonder that all of that pressure gets passed down to the kids in the hot seats.

But like them or not, it's likely that your child will have to take a standardized test at some point in her school-aged years. Help her prepare and do her best on test day with these handy tips:

Before the test

Mom and daughter doing homework
Help your child practice any schoolwork that she may have had trouble with during the year. (Photo: Uber Images/Shutterstock)
  • Make sure your child knows what he will be tested on and when. Nothing can rattle a kid more quickly than having a test day come up out of nowhere.
  • Go over subjects she has had difficulties with this year. If she struggled with fractions at the beginning of the year, refresh her memory with a worksheet (or even just by using real-life scenarios like adding measurements in a recipe). It may help boost her confidence on test day if she has a fresh memory of the subjects that gave her trouble.
  • Do a practice run. If your child tends to stress about the unknown, it might be helpful to give him the opportunity to do a short trial test at home. Ask your child's teacher if you need help finding one. Keep the practice session shorts and worry less about the answers and more about helping your child understand the concept of reading the directions carefully, filling in the circles and completing each section in the time allowed.
  • Make sure your child sleeps well each night in the days before the tests and has a good breakfast on test day.

During the test

Young boy stressed while taking test
You don't want your child to be worried about being late or forgetting something important on test day. (Photo: racorn/Shutterstock)
  • We know it's easier said than done, but make an extra effort on test day to get your child to school prepared and on time. You don't want him to be worried about his forgotten lunch while he's trying to answer questions on reading comprehension.
  • Pack a healthy lunch and skip the sweets on test day. An afternoon sugar crash won't help him get through a full day of test-taking.
  • Remind your child to take deep breaths, stay relaxed and keep a positive attitude on test day. The questions may seem challenging, but he just needs to do his best and let everything else sort itself out.

After the test

Happy girl
Once the tests are over, it's time to celebrate!. (Photo: Jingjits Photography/Shutterstock)
  • Talk with your child about how the test went and ask how she felt about the day. If it didn't go well, ask her for suggestions on ways that she could have felt more prepared or confident.
  • If you are able, go over test scores with your child once they are processed.
  • No matter the result, if your child gave it her best shot, celebrate her achievements and praise the effort.