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Standardized Tests 101 for Tutors

Tiffany Smith
Oct. 31, 2009

How to prepare students for standardized tests.

Outside of their regular studies, most students will participate in standardized testing during their academic careers. Some of the tests, including AP Exams and the SATs, are elective; others, such those administered in public schools as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, are mandated by the government.

Regardless of why a child is taking a standardized test, having a tutor is one of the best ways to help her excel.

How to help a child prepare for a standardized test

  • First familiarize yourself with the test.
  • Find the answers to the following questions; remember that you might have to share these answers with her parents.
    • What is the test, and what does it measure?
    • What is its format? (Essay? Multiple choice?)
    • How will the student be scored? How will she be penalized for an incorrect answer? An unanswered question?
  • Discuss these questions with the child's teacher
    • When, exactly, will the test be administered?
    • How is the school preparing?
    • How are teachers preparing, and how are they asking parents to prepare?
  • Based on what you learn from the teacher, you can then develop a program to enhance the current support system.
    • Give the student a practice test early on to help pinpoint her weak areas.
    • Tell her parents how you plan to strengthen these areas, but do not promise high test scores.
    • Throughout your tutoring, schedule practice tests to evaluate which areas need the most attention. By timing these practice tests, your student will have a better idea of the clock and may be able to work more efficiently during the actual day of the exam.

For more information


Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite

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