USATestprep Blog

Archive for April, 2013

Quick Tips: Favorites

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

You’ve probably been cruising around the site and have seen a question that you wanted to put on a benchmark test.  Or maybe you have a question of your own that would be perfect for your next benchmark test. Good thing for you that we have a “Favorites” tab on your Home page. Here’s how to utilize it.

 

If you see a question that you’d like to remember for another day, look for the “Add to Favorites” link underneath the question. You could see this while creating a benchmark test, looking at a small/med/large test, practice questions, or maybe while looking at our Question of the Day.

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This will automatically add the question to your Favorites tab on your teacher home page. Here you can see both the USATestprep question you’ve tagged as favorites AND any questions of your own that you’ve input.

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Clicking on the My Questions link, will allow you to add your own questions on the site. Choose “Add Question” and you start a 3 part step to adding a question. First, chose the Test Subject (1)you want the question to be a part of. <i>Note: you must have already created a class that is associated with that test subject.>/i>

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Then choose the (2)standard with which the question will be associated. (Nomenclature in your state may vary from the example shown.) When finished, click the “Continue”  button.

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Next, input your question. You can assign an image to your question. Just click the box (3) and upload your jpg, png, or gif file. If the question needs a prompt or a passage, input it in the prompt box (4). The text of your question goes in the next box (5), and the choices can be input underneath (6). BE SURE to choose the correct answer (7), which is a rather important step. If you want to include an explanation like other questions on USATestprep, input it in the Explanation/Feedback box (8). You may also notice that you can use HTML tags by clicking on the yellow HTML button (9). The button is associated specifically with the field to which it is adjacent. If you don’t wish to do this, simple ignore them. Once you’ve completed this step, click “Review Question” (not shown, but below Explanation/Feedback).

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Then proof your work. If you need to revise it, click the “Edit Question” link (10). If it looks perfect to you,  click the Submit Question button (11) and you’re done!

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This question is now saved on your Favorites Tab.

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You can now use this question when making your own Benchmark test.

 

You should note that when you create a question only YOU will have access to it. Yes, we store it for you, but no other teachers- not in any other school or even within your school- will be able to add it into their own benchmark tests, nor will it show up in their practice questions. Your question is only for you.

 

If you ever have any questions about this process, don’t hesitate to lest us know.

Testing Tips

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Each year around “testing season”,  we offer some basic- but tried and true- advice on taking tests.  We post these daily on Facebook in April, but we thought we’d share them in their entirety here. Feel free to share and to offer some tips of your own.

  •  Don’t cram. It sounds painful and it can be counter-productive. Instead, review plenty in the days and weeks before the test. Depending on when you read this and when you test is scheduled, that may not be possible. If that’s the case, do the best you can, but remember about the cramming….
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before. Get to bed in order to ensure that you get 8 hours of restful sleep prior to going into the test. It would also help to exercise the evening before to get some of the stress out of your system.
  • Eat a good breakfast. This does NOT mean lots of sugar, donuts, candy bars, etc. It does mean something that is packed with protein.
  • Drink plenty of water. This is really something you need to do for a few days leading up to the event. On a similar note…
  • Avoid having too much caffeine. Having a few large coffees before the test is a bad idea, and not just because of having to ask for a bathroom break during the exam. Having the caffeine jitters can distract your focus and lead to a poorer performance than you normally would experience.
  • Go to the bathroom before you walk in the testing room. ‘Nuff said.
  • Dress in layers. Ok, not the MOST important tip, but if you are too hot or too cold during the test you will be distracted. Having a sweater to put on or a t-shirt to strip down to will help regulate your body temperature. Besides, testing environments are typically on the cool side.
  • Bring plenty of writing implements. 2 sharpened pencils and 2 pens? That should do, but have a few others just to be safe. Don’t forget your erasers, too.

 

And as for actually TAKING the test:

  • Read your instructions carefully. If you have any questions about the directions, ask the testing proctor.
  • Make notes only in places allowable (scratch paper, for example). The directions will tell you where.
  • Carefully read each question and every answer choice. Make sure you know what the question IS asking, not what you THINK it is asking.
  • Don’t spend too much time on one question. If you are taking a while to answer one question, skip it and make a note of which question it was so you can come back to it. MAKE SURE you skip that space on your answer sheet.
  • If you finish early, don’t just put your head down. Go back and make sure you answered each question as you intended, and that you did not mislabel your answers (such as being off by one).

 

GOOD LUCK!

Quick Tips: Badges

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Our Badges can be a way to reward student activity and achievement on USATestprep. Some badges are assigned automatically by our system, but teachers can assign them to students, as well.

From your Teacher Home page, click the Badges tab.

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You can (1) look at the list of badges that our system automatically assigns to users, but you might want to (2) create your own badge, too.

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When creating a badge, the first step is to enter a title for the badge (3), as well as a brief description. Next, choose the icon (4) you want to show up on the student’s Home page. (For this example, we’ll use the Thumbs Up.)  Then, if you’d like a specific start/end date, (5) pick them from the pop-up calendar. Otherwise, you can just choose to have it Display Indefinitely.

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The last step is to assign the badge. You can give it to specific students (6)  or to an entire class (7). When finished, click “Save Badge.”

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Then, when the student logs in… boom: a badge!

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We hope your students like this feature as much as we liked getting gold stars on our papers back alllll those years ago!

Quick Tips: Dojo

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Some of us here really, really liked martial arts movies when we were coming up. If you were one of us, then you’re probably familiar with the term “dojo.” If not, dojo refers to either a place of training or a set of training tools used in the martial arts. Though testing can sometimes seem like a contact sport, our Dojo is meant to be far less physically destructive. Our Study Guide Dojo- accessible from the Print Resources section of your Test Subject page- is meant to provide your student(s) with a hard-copy guide of tasks to complete.

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Here, you (1) can determine what activities you- the “Sensei”- would like your student(s)- the “Grasshopper” (2) – to complete. If you want to make a Dojo for the entire class, just leave the Grasshopper information blank. In the Documentation Requested section (3) you can choose how you would like their progress reported to you.

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The Activities section offers lots of choices. If you would like to have the system automatically and randomly select the activities for you, just click USATestprep Quick Pick (4) in the green box. But you will probably prefer to choose which tasks you would like to assign. Simply click from the choices available: (5) Tests, (6) Domain Tests, (7) Question Activities- “practice” activities-, (8) Vocabulary Activities, (9) Online Crosswords, any of our (10) Games, and/or our (11) Skill Work activities. You can also specify (A) if you would like the student(s) to work on all standards in the subject, a specific standard,  or their weakest standard. If you’re asking them to complete a game you can (B) specify <i>which</i> game, and you can also specify which specific Skill Work you would like them to do (C).

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Lastly, you can choose to have your student(s) complete any of our (12) printed activities. Since these printed activities are available only on the teacher side of USATestprep, you will have to print them a copy of these activities ahead of time. These can all be found in the Print Resources section of your Test Subject page. When you’re finished choosing, just click “Create Study Guide.” (12)

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You then be able to view and print the Study Guide Dojo you just created.

 

A few last reminders:

  • The Dojo is not permanently stored in the system, so be sure to make extra copies of it for your records.
  • If you are giving a Dojo to the entire class, the questions will vary from student to student, even if you are having them perform the same activities on the same standard. This is just like any other non-Benchmark test activity on the site.
  • When students begin an activity, they should still have the option to report the scores to you. As long as you have already created a class and associated that class with the relevant Test Subject, they will see your name from a pull-down menu on the first step of the process.

 

You can always watch the How To video on the Study Guide Dojo, available under the “Print Resources” section of the How To Videos. If you have more questions, just give us a call or email.

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