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Beating the Standardized Test Doldrums

written by: Deb Killion • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 11/24/2015

Many kids get stressed out by the thought of taking a test. Here are some tips to keep kids positive and doing their best when standardized test season comes around.

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    Standardized tests are a part of the educational process. They are also a part of the expectations of any career that kids choose to go into. Entrance exams are required in every field and the standards are being raised in terms of what is expected with these tests. This can all seem overwhelming to kids and parents alike. What can be done to beat the standardized test doldrums?

    Here are a few tips to better motivate kids to get excited about standardized tests that have worked for some:

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    Offer Rewards for Exceptional Improvements

    When kids have something to work toward, they are more likely to show improvement on the standardized tests. Schools have a reward system in place many times in an effort to improve overall test scores of a school or specific classes. You can do the same at home by offering specific incentives for better performance and improvements.

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    Emphasize the Long-Term Goal

    When students understand the significance of what they are doing, they will work harder to achieve it. Talk to kids about their future goals for college and job opportunities, then look up the testing requirements and entrance criteria for their chosen profession. Simply raising the conscious level of standardized testing procedures and what they are for may serve to increase student motivation for performing as well as they can. If they see it is not just a mundane process to document results, but rather a stepping stone toward future goals, they may be more likely to comply.

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    Encourage Brain Foods and Nutrition

    There are several foods that research has shown will improve the concentration level of students over time, and also in the short term. Some of these foods are: blueberries, peanut butter, whole grains, fish, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, various types of nuts, and many others. Even some simple spices such as sage, are believed to improve memory. Simply having a simple snack of peanut butter and water (which is proven to lubricate the brain), may increase test scores, according to some studies.

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    Listen to Classical Music

    There is some truth in the strangest of ideas. Albert Einstein is noted to have listened to or played classical music for a few minutes a day before starting on his scientific experiments. Some experts believe that listening to classical music for only 15 minutes per day may increase IQ scores by as much as 6%. Is it true? The jury is still out. But providing classical music for kids to listen to before tests or while they are studying for various assessments may increase their level of concentration, which may provide the increases in assessments we want to see. It’s worth a try!

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    Sit up Straight!

    Your mother always told you to sit up straight and the rule still applies to the testing situation. When kids sit up straight, circulation improves and their alertness level increases. It also keeps them from getting sleepy and gets them in a mental mindset of testing. So, even if it sounds old-fashioned, tell your kids to “sit up straight.”

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    Avoid Distractions

    Usually the testing environment is quiet and free of distractions, but occasionally there are subtle distractions. Anything from the air conditioner turning on and off, people shuffling their testing papers, or other incidents, can distract a distractible student from the task at hand. Work on concentration exercises by teaching kids to ignore such distractors and focus only on the test. Some psychologists encourage people who suffer from various forms of anxiety to say mentally: “Stop it!” when they experience such distractions.

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    Think of Positive Motivators

    It helps some kids to think of other things when mentally preparing for the test, such as a vacation they wish to take sometime in the future, a go-cart ride, or anything that makes them happy. Positive thoughts that are thought of in place of the test itself may help keep negative thoughts about the test from dragging them down when it gets closer to the assessment day. Remember, positive thinking is important when it comes to testing, so smile and remember “Life is good!”