By Sean Alexander

For most school-aged children, tests are a part of life, albeit an unpleasant one. Unfortunately, taking a test can be a source of stress for students, who can quickly get overwhelmed by performance pressure and unexpected answer choices.


Students can learn how to take a test effectively, but to do so, they need realistic test-taking strategies. What are test strategies, and how can they help your child succeed? Establishing some basic study skills can help your child go into future tests feeling relaxed and well-prepared for the challenge.

Seven Test-Taking Strategies for Your Child

Throughout their education, students take hundreds of exams and tests. Their scores can have a substantial effect on their course grades, which in turn can influence college admissions. While there is no way to ensure that your child passes every exam, there are test-taking tips that can help build a foundation for better test performance.

    1. Help Your Child Create a Study Schedule That Will Help Prepare for Tests

    Research has consistently shown that routines are a critical part of healthy childhood development, and study schedules are no exception. Rather than leaving study time until the night before the test, students can block out thirty minutes or an hour each evening to review the material, helping to prevent your child from becoming overwhelmed. Blocking out time also creates a routine that makes the study process more comfortable and less burdensome.

    2. Encourage Your Child To Be Organized and Prepare Ahead of Time

    Children aren't born with test-taking skills ingrained in their DNA, so it's vital to help them learn and practice effective strategies. One of the most important is to get organized either by creating a test calendar or categorizing class notes. If students develop a system of studying and reviewing in advance, they can identify challenging questions and put them on a more frequent rotation when they study before a test.

    3. Provide Required Books and Study Material

    It's impossible for students to fully prepare for a test if they don't have the right study resources. Ensure your child has access to any required textbooks and materials, such as handouts or computer software, before exam day arrives.

    Your child may also be able to access a practice test, either from a teacher or an online resource ban. Practice exams can be a highly effective means of preparing for an upcoming test because they allow students to prepare for different question types. For example, students can learn to:

    • Eliminate incorrect options on multiple-choice questions
    • Create a quick outline for an essay question
    • Avoid wasting time by making quick judgments on true or false questions

    A practice test can also allow students to get comfortable with logistical issues like the style of the answer sheet.

    4. Review Previous Exam Papers With Your Child

    test taking 1Although students often focus only on their grades and want to forget their wrong answers as soon as a test is over, it's a mistake to throw an old exam paper in the trash. Instead, try to review the questions and discuss any concepts they found unclear or especially difficult. If your child continues to misunderstand a previously missed question, try looking up the correct answer and going over it in more detail.

    Reviewing previous tests is also an excellent way to ensure that your child is paying close attention to the instructions on the test. Read through the directions, reminding your child of the importance of reading the instructions closely on every test.

    5. Provide Your Child with a Quiet, Comfortable Place for Studying at Home

    In addition to having access to review materials, students also need a high-quality study environment to succeed. Ideally, this space would include the following:

    • A degree of privacy away from busy areas of the house
    • Sufficient light, particularly natural light
    • A comfortable place to sit
    • A clean, uncluttered workspace

    If possible, find a dedicated spot, like a desk or table, for your child to use for studying to help establish an association between that particular place and the study process. This practice works in the same way that people relate their beds with sleeping and are thus more able to relax there.

    Most importantly, a child's study space should be distraction-free. Although study sessions with fellow students can be beneficial, unrelated chatter and social media scrolling prevent your child from focusing on the task.

    6. Help Your Child Avoid Test Anxiety

    According to data from the CDC, approximately 6 million American children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and millions more struggle with general anxiety. Both of these struggles, along with challenges at home, depression, and lack of proper nutrition, can escalate text anxiety and make taking an exam a battle.

    Parents can help all children, including those with ADHD, reduce the risk of test anxiety by encouraging them to get adequate sleep every night and eat well-balanced meals. Avoid caffeine-heavy beverages, like energy drinks, before the test, which will lower the chances that your child will feel irritable or restless. It's also imperative to nourish your child's emotions by offering positive affirmations and support.

    7. Let Your Child Practice Short Brain Breaks

    While study time is crucial, cramming in a single session can do more harm than good. As you help your child develop strong time management skills, include frequent brain breaks. Studies have shown that taking a short break to stretch, eat a snack, or listen to music, for example, will make your child more productive, energetic, and focused.

    Help Your Child Feel Prepared for Test Day

    Getting ready for a test can be challenging in the best circumstances, but the process can be less painful if your child adopts healthy test-taking strategies. It's also important to remember that resources and tools are available to help your child achieve academic success.

    The math and physics experts at Alexander Tutoring believe with the proper support and approach, every child can learn to appreciate and succeed in topics that they find the most challenging. Reach out to the team at Alexander Tutoring to learn how working with a dedicated, passionate tutor can make a difference in your child's academics.


    • Sean Alexander

      COMMAND PILOT, OWNER Sean has been a professional educator for 15 years and has taught math, physics, and astronomy at all levels.  His experience ranges from working at a high school for severe learning differences to teaching advanced physics at Stanford.  After completing his graduate work in theoretical physics Sean founded Alexander Tutoring, with the mission of revealing the deep connections between math and nature to as many students as possible. 

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