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How to Study for Math Tests the Common Core Way

written by: Deb Killion • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 4/29/2014

Want to help your child prepare for standardized achievement tests? Learn characteristics of the Common Core curriculum you can use to do so.

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    What Is Common Core?

    Studying for Math Tests the Common Core Way A new concept still sinking into the minds of anyone involved in the educational process today is the idea of Common Core. Common Core is defined as:

    The Common Core concentrates on a clear set of math skills and concepts. Students will learn concepts in a more organized way both during the school year and across grades. The standards encourage students to solve real-world problems.

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    Preparing Students for Common Core Testing

    How do we prepare students to study math and prepare for the standardized tests and other assessments the Common Core way? Here are a few tips based on the common core curriculum.

    1. Practice word problems. The use of word problems is not new to math education. With the focus on common core being more about the results rather than the means, it is important to teach students to apply what they learn. The practice or real world type problems involving a specific set of skills will bring students closer to understanding the concepts to provide the best background for achieving common core standards.
    2. Use dramatic play exercises. Dramatic play and acting out various scenarios is something teachers and parents can do. They are relatively easy to set up and involve the use of scenes, such as a restaurant for restaurant math, real world banking and budgeting scenarios and other applications of basic math skills. The fun platform of dramatic play helps students become more involved in the process and learn to approach the math problems in a more hands-on approach, which leads to greater understanding.
    3. Use technology to implement advanced applications to common math problems. Many apps and technological products aid students in applying what they have learned in a real world way. Look for games and activities that emphasize the result and the practical application of skills, such as interactive money games, budget apps and measurement games.
    4. Be specific in your approach when helping students study. Since the common core curriculum involves not only a real world application for math skills but also a succinct focus, math objectives you work on with students should follow this method. Look to see if the approach you are using is general or specific. You need to focus the specific math goals and then apply them to real world situations.
    5. Use real world examples often. This is something parents can do on a regular basis. Parents of very young children do this often, such as asking a three-year-old to name an object in a picture or book. You can do the same thing with older students. Of course, you would make the questions appropriately challenging, such as, “What would you do if you were a business owner and your profit was less than it was the month before?" or “Name some specific strategies in calculating profit and loss and how to strategize to increase the margins." Open-ended questions that focus on high-level, out of the box thinking are the kind the new common core standards expect and require.
    6. Have students write about and describe how they got their answer, rather than just solve it. This started with some state Benchmark exams awhile back, for which students were asked to write in their answers on math problems. This is because test administrators believe it is important that students not only know the answers and how to solve them, but also that they understand the process.

    These steps will begin to move students toward applying the math concepts they are learning in the new common core curriculum. Parents can get involved by using their resources in their home or work environments to come up with questions or problems to solve in real world situations.

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    Other Considerations

    It is important to understand other aspects of common core, such as the specific approach to learning and other methods used to get students to a higher level of understanding.

    Common core is also about “raising the bar." Once again, schools are moving students toward a one path approach to higher learning by expecting ALL (not just SOME) students to achieve. While these expectations may see unrealistic at times, all students need to work toward these higher standards so they will be able to achieve at the highest level possible in all that they undertake.

    We have provided a helpful list of links in the References section, including a link to a “do-it-yourself" worksheet creator that applies specific common core skills in the math area.

Helping Your Child Succeed with Standardized Tests

Although highly debated and somewhat controversial, standardized achievement testing is a fact of life. Learn some tips and approaches that can enable you to help your child do his or her best on assessments of every kind.
  1. The Benefits of Achieving Well on Standardized Tests
  2. How to Study for Math Tests the Common Core Way
  3. General Test-Taking Strategies That Apply to Any Test
  4. What Kind of Learner is your Child?

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