Hmm, so many rows of little bubbles, now where do I put my name? The clock is ticking down… Should I choose A or E? I’m not sure…maybe I should go on and come back to this one later?
Questions like these race through every homeschooled child’s mind as they sit hunched over their answer sheet, sharpened #2 pencil in hand, taking the nationally standardized achievement test like the CAT5. It can be a bit intimidating, especially on one’s first time doing the tests, but with some advance preparation kids can begin to approach the tests with confidence, which in turn affects how well they score. Read on for several test prep and test taking tips as well as our review of two excellent test prep programs: Scoring High and Achievement Test Advantage.
Tips for Test Prep
Before test day even comes, you’ll want to have a thorough-going knowledge of a wide subject matter. Since you can’t know exactly what will be on the test (’cause that would be cheating!) until the actual day when you take the test, your best defense is a good offense. Of particular benefit will be applied thinking skills, that is, being able to analyze, assess, comprehend, rephrase and generally dissect the information that is gleaned from hearing and/or reading the passages, questions, math problems, and pictographs and such that fill the pages of the achievement test.
Explain to your student that you will be taking a test that will reflect what they have learned throughout your homeschool year. A snapshot, if you will, along that child’s timeline of academic learning (keep in mind: there are other aspects of a complete education which an achievement test cannot measure). Be sure to reinforce the positive aspects of such a measurement in order to ease any anxiety. The goal is to help understand what the child knows or does not know in order to improve their educational experience and be able to more profitably tailor your instruction to your students. Here are some additional test prep tips:
√ Read! Encourage children to read often, whether that’s alone, out-loud, to their siblings, to you, or you reading to them
√ Eat nutritional foods that strengthen the body and fuel the mind for the academic challenges and opportunities ahead
√ Get plenty of good rest leading up to and during the testing week you have selected
Come to think of it, those are advantageous to children at all times!
Test Prep Programs ComparisonThere are two very helpful test prep books that many people have enjoyed and benefited from. These are the Scoring High books and the Achievement Test Advantage. These practice tests come together in Teacher and Student Combo packages, and the Scoring High throws in a tips poster as well.
In the Teacher’s Edition (TE), both Scoring High and Achievement TestAdvantage give clear and concise instructions for directing the student how to take the test. Sometimes, particularly for the lower grades, word-for-word dictation is given for the teacher to say. Both test prep programs also include the answers section in the back of the TE. (students, no peeking!) There is an additional feature that the Achievement Test Advantage offers that the Scoring High does not, and that is the Advantage Schedule Time Table gives students an idea of how much time they have with each test, how it feels under that “ticking clock pressure”, and provides practice how to pace oneself under those timing constraints. And finally, both can be ordered for use with several of the nationally standardized achievement tests currently on the market.
In the Student’s Edition (SE), both Scoring High and Achievement Test Advantage introduce subject content similar to nationally standardized achievement tests. The formats are based on the type of test, and the questions are easy to read and understand, with the bubble choices down at the bottom of the page. There are professional & engaging illustrations throughout, as well as some full color photos in the Advantage books. The Achievement Test Advantage has approximately 30 pages and is intended for basic practice; the Scoring High has nearly 140 pages and is intended for extensive practice. This is reflected in the price, with the Achievement Test Advantage being $11.95 and the Scoring High $51.45.
For those of you who are visual, here’s a sample page from the Achievement Test Advantage and a sample page from Scoring High.
Right now, Piedmont Education Services is offering the Advantage test prep book for free shipping when you your order for the CAT5. If you’re going to be doing CAT5 achievement testing this year, this is a great way to get a free test prep book to help prepare your students. Either call 336-924-2494 and mention that you saw this offer on this blog, or order securely online.
Remember, the achievement test prep books are not designed to tell you exactly what is going to be on the tests. To be sure, they do provide appropriate grade-level test questions that are roughly equivalent to actual test questions. Rather, their main purpose is to familiarize students with what the test will be like, and teach behaviors that will equip students to perform well instead of being unnecessarily nervous.
Test Taking Tips
The day of the test finally comes. You’ve applied the test-prep tips and employed the test prep programs for their maximum benefit, and now it’s time to take the test. Don’t forget to pray and ask the Lord for clear minds and help in the time spent testing, then take a deep breath, and get started! On multiple choice tests, you have the convenience of having present at least one correct answer of the four (or sometimes five) choices presented before you. So here are some final tips for students when taking the test:
• Use your time wisely; move at a steady pace.
• Survey the paragraph or question and look for key words.
• Once you have carefully analyzed the question, then look over the possible answers and eliminate in your mind those choices which cannot possibly be right.
• Decide on an approach. One approach is to skim over all the questions and answer the ones you know immediately first. The other approach is simply to go through the questions sequentially.
• Be aware that there will be overlap in the questions from grade to grade and year to year.
• If there is time left at the end, go back and double check all your answers.
• Sometimes with math questions, you can use a different equation to check your answer
Once you’ve taken the tests, you can look back and see that the journey was part of the education. Upon receiving the scores, review them, analyze them properly and compare to what you have observed and recorded about your students. Share the encouragements with your kids and move forward applying what you’ve learned. With adequate preparation, you should see positive results. We wish you a relaxed and profitable testing experience!