April 18th, 2013 Kirby
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).
Quick Tips: Badges
April 11th, 2013 Kirby
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Then, when the student logs in… boom: a badge!
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
April 4th, 2013 Kirby
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.
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.
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).
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)
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.
Quick Tips: Parent Letters
March 28th, 2013 Kirby
Parent Letters (Mar. 28)
Sometimes parents aren’t aware that their child has access to USATestprep, or even that the school has an account. We have a pre-made way for you to let them know that this valuable resource exists to them.
On your Teacher Home page, you can print off two versions of our “Parent Letters.” Just click the cleverly-named “Parent Letters” link on the right.
You will see a pdf document for two options: a “Warm” and a “Stern” letter.
Both say some of the same things, but while the “Warm” letter simply lets the parents know about upcoming testing and your school’s subscription to USATestprep, the “Stern” letter lets them know that their child has not been doing as well, and that remediation is paramount importance.
Each letter can be printed and handed out to the student(s). But if you would like to tweak or personalize the message, feel free to “cut-and-paste” the text into a word processing document and edit it as you see fit.
We hope this adds a layer of accountability and documentation to your efforts to prepare all of your students for their demanding tests.
Quick Tips: Archiving Results
March 21st, 2013 Kirby
If you find that your Student Results tab has far too many entries for your liking, you can always Archive them. This is kind of like a virtual file cabinet: you’re just moving them out of your way to another place that you don’t always see.
When viewing the Student Results tab, you’ll notice a blue Archive button. Clicking this button…
… will remove it from the Current results you see automatically when viewing the Student Results tab. To view archived results, click the button next to “Archived,” then press Go.
You will then have access to all of the student results you have Archived. They’re still in our system and they still “count,” even though you don’t see them immediately. To change the status of a result, simply click the blue Unarchive button and it will once again appear on the Student Results tab as “Current.”
Quick Tips: Need Some Extra Help?
March 14th, 2013 Kirby
From time to time we all need a little assistance, maybe a little more than this humble blog can provide. If you ever need help using USATestprep, you’ve got lots of options, and they can also be found on your Teacher Home page.
1. We have dozens of brief How-To Videos on the site. These look at specific tools and tasks found on the site, and are meant to instruct you quickly and easily.
2. You can also click the Training link to look at our other options for helping your faculty use USATestprep.
Here, you will find many different opportunities for our staff to instruct you and your fellow teachers about the tools on USATestprep. From webinars to onsite training, we’ve got you covered.
And, of course, you can email or call us. We’ll help you out!
Quick Tips: Tournament Time
February 28th, 2013 Kirby
Its almost that time again: time for basketball tournaments to monopolize sports- and news- headlines around the country. You can take advantage of the excitement by having your own tournament with our original two player game, SGKS: Super Graduation Kombat Smackdown. You can find it under the Games tab on either the Teacher or Student site in each test subject.
But you can also print out tournament-style brackets to make the game even more interesting. You can find this on your teacher Home page. Just look for “Tournament Brackets” on the right in yellow box.
A pdf file will open up with tournament brackets for 4, 8, 16, and 32 players.
Bring out the competitive side of your students by using SGKS- or any of our games- and these brackets, not just in March but all year long!
Quick Tips: Edit Account
February 21st, 2013 Kirby
At some point you may need to change something very basic in your account. You might decide to change your password during the year. Or maybe your school has changed your email address or you might want to change it to something else. Theses are very easy tasks that you can handle quickly.
Just look for the Edit Account link under your avatar on your Home page.
You can alter your salutation, make any name changes, and insert a new email address. If you see a message like the one shown in the graphic (1), it means that emails sent to you have been rejected by your server. You will definitely want to update your email and click the “Re-enable Emails” box.”
In addition to changing your other login information (Username, Password, etc) and changing your avatar (on the right), you can now change the email preferences (2) that allow communication to your email address. Here you can choose to have a nightly email summary of student activity sent to your inbox, receive announcements from USATestprep, get reports about your school’s monthly usage, and get expiration notices.
BE SURE to click the green “Save Changes” button to apply any alterations you have made.
Quick Tips: Password Search
February 14th, 2013 Kirby
[Disclaimer: This would probably NEVER happen to YOUR students.]
Occasionally a student may forget his or her password. Any teacher with a USATestprep account can help a student if this happens.
From your Home page, click the “Student Password Search” link on the right side of the page.
Next, simply type in the student’s name. It could be the student’s first name or last name.
When you find the name, click the student’s name, then the Search button. You will then see the Username and Password for the student you selected. You can even print a password card for them.
So if you know anyone who ever experiences this trauma, you may want to let them know about this handy feature.
February 8th, 2013 Kirby
We are proud to announce some important new features to help you and your students.
TEACHER MONTHLY SCHOOL USAGE REPORT
Login and edit your account settings under your avatar to receive this monthly email of your school’s activity. You will see logins and teacher and student usage data. We also have several new email options to choose from.
PARENT WEEKLY PROGRESS REPORT
Students may register to send a weekly summary of their USATestprep progress to their parents. They simply login and edit their account settings to sign up. Parents must confirm the registration.
STUDENT VERSION OF TEAM PROJECTOR GAMES
Two or more students can now login and compete against each other on our updated student versions of Time Bus and Battle Royale. Only one computer/tablet is needed to play this game.
COMMON CORE COMPLETE
USATestprep is now happy to offer a complete line of review products aligned to the Math and Language Arts CCSS. We just added our elementary product to our current middle and high school CCSS review products. Let us know if you are interested in a free trial to review any of these.