Tests-Taking Tips
The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

These tests-taking tips will be beneficial to students of all ages. And parents, the tips can help YOU prepare your first grader for tests ... It's all about reducing the child's test anxiety.

Test anxiety happens whenever your child worries excessively. While it's good to be concerned about taking a test, it's not good to worry excessively. Worrying about doing well on a test can mean disaster for a student.

Let’s do whatever we can to avoid that.

If your child takes tests, it’s never too early to give him some tests-taking tips.

Easy Ways to Help

•Provide a quiet, comfortable place for studying at home.

•Never cram the night before! Cramming will increase anxiety.

•Always space studying over several days. Review it more than once! Remember to make study times short. Say about ten minutes for first graders.

•Teach him to LISTEN to your directions. So he’ll do the same in class, on tests, and everywhere else.

Learning to be a good listener is one of the TOP SKILLS required for school success.

•Teach your child to read test directions carefully. How? Whenever you’re helping with homework, SHOW him - by YOUR example - that ALL written and oral directions are important.

Tests-Taking Tips

•If he listens but still has a question, tell him to go ahead and politely ask his question. Just watch and make sure he isn’t thinking or forming his questions WHILE you’re giving your instructions.

(Some students will do that whenever they should be listening and watching the teacher.)

•If you think he’s mature enough, tell him if he doesn’t know the answer to a question, to skip it and go on to the next question.

SHOW HIM on his homework how to mark a problem so he can identify it as unanswered. PRACTICE having him return to the unanswered question(s) at the end of the test.

(Not all – perhaps - but MOST tests in first grade are untimed.)

•If your child is having any difficulty that concerns you, call the school and set up an appointment with your child's teacher.

Ask the teacher to suggest activities for you and your child … Things you can do at home to help prepare him for tests and also improve his understanding of schoolwork.

•Make sure your child attends school regularly. A child has to be present to learn all that is required of him. And tests do reflect his overall achievement.

•See that your child is well rested on school days and especially on test days.

It’s shocking how many little ones come to class bone tired.

•Remember, that ONE test is that, simply ONE test. Don't judge your child on the basis of a single test score.

(Many other things can influence a test score … Can he see well and hear well? Is he tired, hungry, not feeling well?)

•Provide your child with a well-rounded diet. A healthy body leads to a healthy, active mind.

(Most schools provide free breakfast and lunch for economically disadvantaged students. If you believe your child qualifies, talk to someone in the school office.)

•Be sure to praise your child for the things he does well. If he feels good about himself, he will do his best.


Most importantly, remember that our children learn by the behavior we model. To me, being a good example is the hardest part of being a good parent.

So SHOW in your actions how to study and how to prepare for tests. And please, never overreact in front of your child! Just do all you can do to prepare your child for tests-taking, and then, relax.

My article, Tests-Taking Tips, is an adaptation of information provided by U.S. Department of Education, Office of Communications and Outreach, Washington, D.C., 2005.

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