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7 Tips to Help Your Child Prepare for Standardized Tests

Bubble sheet for a standardized test with a pencil

Beneficial test prep tips for NY middle school students

Standardized tests are an essential part of middle school in New York. Though these tests may be controversial, the scores currently play a significant role in your child’s academic future. That’s why it’s essential to start preparing your student as early as possible.

We will discuss the different tests your child will be taking in middle school and their purpose. We’ll also provide seven test prep tips that will help your child score well on standardized tests in New York.

Standardized tests in New York

New York middle school students take a variety of state and local exams. Some NY Standardized Tests relate to information they learned in elementary school. Others reflect the additional skills they’ve learned in the years since graduating to middle school. These assessments provide valuable information about where your child stands academically versus in previous years. Over time, you’ll also be able to see how much progress your child made or subjects that need more work.

  • NY State English Language Arts (ELA) Test

The ELA test is a 2-day, untimed exam that features multiple-choice questions based on short passages they read. Students must also provide written responses about stories or articles from books, newspapers, or poetry readings they read. Students in grades 3-8 must take the test every spring.

  • NY State Math Test

The NY State Math assessment is also untimed. It requires students to use their math skills in various ways. Some questions are multiple-choice, while others are open-ended.

  • NY State Science Test

The NY State Science assessment tests a student’s understanding of scientific concepts and inquiry techniques. Students take this test in eighth grade unless they’re in grade seven and they’ve completed all of the material in the Intermediate-Level Science Core Curriculum and are being considered for placement in an accelerated high school level science course, in which case, they can take it then. The test has two parts – a written exam and a laboratory performance exam. The timed test includes using hands-on equipment and materials to answer specific questions.

  • Second Language Proficiency Exams

Students who have completed one or more years of Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese (Simplified), or Latin before the end of eighth grade may be eligible to take the Second Language Proficiency (SLP) Exam. Taking the test can help your child earn two extra high school credits.

  • Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT)

Students who want to enroll in one of New York City’s specialized high schools may choose to take the SHSAT. All students in grades 8-9 can take the test.

Schools that require the SHSAT include:

• The Bronx High School of Science

• The Brooklyn Latin School

• Brooklyn Technical High School

• High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College of New York

• High School of American Studies at Lehman College

• Queens High School for the Sciences at York College

• Staten Island Technical High School

• Stuyvesant High School

Students with disabilities or IEPs may take the NY State Alternate Assessment. Students who are English language learners may be eligible to take the Test for English Language Learners. Other tests include periodic assessments in math, science, English, and social studies subjects.

Now, let’s get to seven test prep tips that middle schoolers can use to do well on NY standardized tests.

1. Homework Matters

Learning is a process, not an event. It’s better if your child makes slow and steady progress throughout the year rather than to try to cram all the lessons and knowledge in at the last minute.

Make sure your child completes homework when it’s assigned. This will help back up the lessons they learn in class and help them remember the information at test time. As the hare learned from the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race.

Get help from teachers

Talking to your child’s teachers is one of the best ways to ensure they stay on track in class. You can even ask for progress reports before starting prep for standardized tests.

Being aware of your child’s academic standing can help you motivate them to tackle tough topics head-on. This can also ensure your child won’t become overwhelmed when test time comes around.

Keep Reading

You can help ensure your child’s success by encouraging them to build reading skills. You can read anything, from novels and news articles to comic books. Spend time talking about what you’ve read and ask questions about the material.

4. Teach relaxation techniques

Anxiety affects cognitive ability and concentration, resulting in mistakes or a complete mental shutdown. Nerves can make even the best students falter when taking standardized tests. Learning relaxation techniques is essential to manage stress and steady frayed nerves. Teach your child deep breathing techniques, as this is one of the best ways to stay calm.

5. Talk about the test

Knowing what to expect can help your child feel less anxious about test day. Find out everything you can about the test, including how long it will last, the subjects and/or types of questions, and the form they’ll take (multiple choice vs. written answers).

It’s a good idea to make sure your child understands how to correctly bubble in answers on multiple-choice questions, as this can affect scores. You can even talk about bathroom breaks or who they can ask if they need help.

6. Understand the importance of directions

Remind your child to read all instructions before starting a test. They must know what’s expected for each section of it. They should pay careful attention to the wording of each question as this can affect the answer.

7. Tackling different types of questions

Standardized tests usually include multiple-choice questions, reading passages, and essay or written questions. Here are tips for different types of questions.

Tips for multiple-choice questions:

  • Read all the answers to the question

  • Answer the questions you know immediately

  • Learn how to eliminate wrong answers and make educated guesses

  • Mark any questions you skip so you can find them again later

  • Make sure to fill in ovals correctly

Tips for reading passages:

  • Read the questions before reading the passage to help “hone in” on essential points

  • Highlight or mark important words, phrases, or ideas

  • Go back and look for evidence or clues to support answers

Tips for essay questions:

  • Outline or create bulleted lists to help organize information and your thoughts

  • Use the margins to write down ideas as you go

  • Read the questions carefully

  • Ensure the topic sentence restates the question in some manner

Tips for math questions:

  • Show work and write legibly

  • Check for careless mistakes like wrong labels, misplaced decimal points, or mistakes in calculations

  • Make sure to answer all parts of the question (some may have more than one part)

Preparing for success

There’s no denying the importance of NY State standardized tests and other state or New York City assessments. Following these tips can help with test prep to ensure your child performs well.

If you have questions or your child needs extra help or tutoring, contact us right away. Our teachers and staff are here to ensure your child’s academic goals in middle school and beyond can be achieved. If you are looking for a middle school, contact the Lamad Academy Admissions Office.

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