Wednesday, November 01, 2006

10 Tips For Higher Test Scores

With these surefire guidelines, students can boost their scores on the new generation of standardized assessments

Today, many standardized tests require more than multiple choice; students are asked to provide written answers to open-ended questions. Integrate these 10 test-taking strategies into your regular curriculum, and get students prepared to take on the tests and come out on top!

1. Read all directions carefully to make sure you know what you are supposed to do. In language arts tests, for example, some directions will tell you to find the sentence that is written correctly. Others will tell you to pick out the mistakes or errors yourself.

2. Take a quick look at the questions before you read a story or article so you know what to look for in the text. If, for example, all the questions about a story are concerned with the characters and the sequence of events, then you must pay closer attention to those two elements as you read.

3. Look for key words (such as who, what, when, where, why) to help you decide how to answer the question. For example: Why did Randall go back to the railroad station? The key word here is why. It tells you to look for a cause or a reason.
How are zebras different from horses? The key word in this question is different. You will need to concentrate on explaining how the creatures differ.

4. Use the parts of the question to help plan your answer. For example: Choose the person from the story whom you admire most. Write a paragraph telling why you admire that person. Use details from the story to support your answer. To answer this problem, think about its three parts. First, choose the person you admire. Next, jot down reasons why you admire the person. Then, go back to the story to find details to support your ideas.

5. Look back at the text (or other material) to find the information you need. For some reason, many students seem to think that once they have read a selection they cannot go back to it. This is not true. Feel free to go back to the text (or picture, chart, table, etc.) to find the answer to each question.

6. Think first, then write. Especially with essay questions, planning your response is helpful. Jot down notes before you write your response. Use prewriting strategies (such as brainstorming, note taking, and outlining) to organize the information you need and help decide how to present it. This approach will save valuable time by improving your focus–clarifying your thoughts before you record them on paper.

7. Write clearly and legibly. You will not receive any credit for an answer if the person scoring the test cannot read it. Also, be direct and concise. Using more words than necessary will not earn more points.

8. Pay attention to how the test will be scored. Many short-answer items, for example, are scored 1 (correct) or 0 (incorrect) for content only. For these, write the correct answer and move on. For questions that are scored on a scale (such as 0-2, 0-4, or 0-5), you can earn more points for answers that are more complete and are written with correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.

9. Manage your time. Many tests must be completed within strict time limits. To score as well as you can, you need to answer as many questions as possible. Before you begin working, think about how much time you have for each question. Keep track of the time as you work, and stick to the schedule. If you come to a question that seems too difficult, skip that question and come back to it later.

10. Check your work. When you have finished answering all the questions, go back and check to make sure each answer is written clearly and correctly. Don’t hesitate to make changes if you have time to do so, but make sure your corrections are clear and easy to read.

By: Michael Priestley, Instructor

No comments: