Wednesday’s Parent: 7 standardized test survival tips

Egg Emoticons, photo by Kate Ter Haar, katerha

Egg Emoticons, photo by Kate Ter Haar, katerha

Parenting brings great joys and great challenges. This post is about one of the more stressful times in a child’s life. The terrible twos or the tween years can’t prepare students (or their parents) sufficiently for the pressures of taking standardized tests.

From achievement tests to college admission tests, schools are looking to measure and categorize student knowledge, abilities and potential for success. There’s a lot riding on the outcome for both the educator and the educated. Students can buckle under all that pressure.

However, parents don’t have to walk on eggshells around their emotionally fragile offspring. They can help their child with these seven standardized test survival tips:

  1. Calm nerves Familiarity goes a long way when it comes to dealing with a special exam. It takes away fear of the unknown and empowers the student by learning what to expect. Parents can make sure their child knows how long the test is, the types of questions, and the form answers should take so she knows what to do.
  2. Schedule rest Teachers advise that students get a good night’s sleep before an important test but parents can beat that standard. They can set a schedule that provides adequate rest every school night so students are regularly able to learn and function at their best.
  3. Follow the leader When teachers send home instructions and assignments, parents can see that students follow them. Helping is one thing but don’t fall into the trap of doing the work for the student. Teachers don’t and parents shouldn’t because they won’t be the ones taking the test.
  4. Prep for the test Sometimes there is no study prep for a test but other times there are practice exams. With the teacher’s approval, find them online, in school/public libraries and book stores. Take a couple together to better understand what your child will be doing and to show your support. The idea is to reduce a child’s stress (see #1), not add to it (see #5). Practicing may also improve his test score.
  5. Schedule some fun To reduce stress and put things into perspective, a little downtime goes a long way. Old and young can benefit from some rejuvenating fun. Review the schedule together and brainstorm some activities that will bring on the laughter and let go of the stress.
  6. Make a care package Parents send their college students care packages with items specifically chosen to help them through exam week. Parents can take the concept and apply it to their younger children. Create a “Test Care Package” full of your child’s favorite snacks, fruit, new pencils, highlighters, notepad, and a new mug. The last item is to encourage hydration. Add a stress-busting toy like bubble stuff, yoyo, or a stress ball and an encouraging note or inspirational saying.
  7. Provide back up Parents can show their support before and after the test. Provide a listening ear to your student and express your confidence in his abilities. When the exam is over, celebrate the accomplishment together!

Read on for Suzanne’s suggestions in her Wednesday’s Parent about standardized tests.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

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