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).



USATestprep is happy to announce the release our updated reviews  for VA SOL Earth Science and Chemistry. These both reflect the 2012 standards. If you already subscribe to the previous versions, you automatically receive the new versions free of charge.

If you don’t currently subscribe to either but would like a free trial, just email or call us.

USATestprep is pleased to announce three new additions to our family. Georgia subscribers can now access American Literature and Composition (CCGPS) and 9th Grade Literature and Composition (CCGPS). If you already subscribe to our English bundle you have full access to this.

Today also marks the appearance of “The Great Revealio.” Not only is this our newest game, but it is our first completely mobile- and tablet-friendly game. All users can find “Revealio” in the Games section right now. Give it a try!

USATestprep is happy to announce that Coordinate Algebra is now available for all of our Georgia subscribers. It is part of the Common Core standards and is included at no charge if you subscribe to our Math bundle.

If you have any questions about it or any part of the site, please give us a call or an email.

The most popular concerns that we hear deal with the Common Core State Standards. We want you to know that we are doing whatever we can to be prepared for these changes. USATestprep has recently finished aligning your state standards directly to the common core standards using the comparison tool from the state DOE. This allows you to see how questions fit into the new CCSS, and it allows you to see which concepts are in both and which are only listed by your state.
This summer, we are completing our dedicated CCSS review that will incorporate the new common core standards and be available for your students next school year. Due to cost and political uncertainties, it is too early to predict exactly what will be required of your students when the new testing (SBAC/PARCC) is rolled out. However, due to our speed and flexibility, we will be able to easily modify our product as more of this information becomes available.

The classroom of today has become vastly different from the classroom of even five years ago. As smartphones and high-speed internet are becoming more commonplace, students now have access to more information at their fingertips, much more than an entire textbook can provide. Teachers are needing to find new ways to keep students engaged. Interactive smart boards, clicker response systems, and even tablets like the iPad are becoming more common for classroom use.
Apple recently announced a new initiative with publishers Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and others that will turn static textbooks into interactive digital formats, capable of being updated at any time. They have also released a software tool that will let anyone create their own content.
Here at USATestprep, we are constantly following emerging technologies and looking into new ways to engage your students. This month we launched a mobile companion to our website allowing students to take a practice quiz, answer the question and vocab of the day, and participate in a “Class Party.” “Class Party” is another new product, allowing teachers to project questions on the screen, providing students with the opportunity to answer them remotely via their mobile device. These are just a few examples of how USATestprep is pushing students forward with content and technology. We hope you enjoy these new features.

In doing some Social Studies authoring this summer, we ran across a few interesting websites. We kept tabs of them and even found a few more along the way. Here are a few of them that represent some of the disciplines.

US History and Government
The Annotated Declaration of Independence
Just as the name implies, the text of the Declaration is interlaced with links to explanations about key passages. This could provide some welcomed insight for students reviewing for tests, either for class or for the end of the course.

US Presidents: Lists and Records
Even though this is more of a “laundry list” of facts, it can still be rather engaging for students. It covers such potential trivia- or bonus point- questions about the birthplaces, religions, military experiences, occupations, and “firsts” for all of the Presidents.

World History & Geography
Modern Internet History Sourcebook
Ok, so this isn’t really anything new. Yours truly used this for most of his years in the classroom, but this treasure trove of primary sources is a must have for any history teacher. And don’t forget: you can access other historic eras and topics at the top of the home page.

National Geographic- The Urban Clan of Genghis Khan
The Mongols are a fascinating, often poorly characterized empire. This article from a recent issue of National Geographic bridges the Mongolian past with the present. A great read with, of course, some amazing photography. And since we’re on the issue of Mongolia…

National Public Radio- A New Beat Gives Young Mongolia A Voice, Identity
If you’re like us, you can’t get enough of modern Mongolian techno-rap music. What? You haven’t heard? Well, not only does this NPR article tell you about the movement- if you can call it that- but you can hear the interview and the music, too. Students will probably find this pretty cool.

The Inflation Calculator
So this one is just for the teachers, really. This site allow you to input a dollar amount for a source year and compare it to any other year. This is absolutely perfect if you wanted to put a dollar amount in US History in a contemporary context. $3.5 million for the Louisiana Territory in 1803? How about that same land costing $50 million in 2010 dollars? Still a good deal, even if you wanted to pay that for a condo in New York City.

Global Rich List
With all the talk of the “1%” and “99%”, this website puts things in a world perspective. Enter in a yearly income in Dollars/Euros/Pounds/Yen and see where that stacks up on average with the other billions of people in the world. If students want to see perspective, this site can do it.

This is a tiny list, but we feel there is some darn good stuff on it. At the very least, these links can get a conversation going. Let us know what you think, or share some links of your own.

We have recently updated some of our existing products to keep up with changing standards in many states. These updates include-

  • Washington Biology EOC
  • Indiana Biology ECA
  • South Carolina South Carolina Social Studies PASS (6th-8th)

If your school subscribed to the previous version you are automatically subscribed to the updated version. If don’t subscribe to them and would like to take a look at them for a few days, just let us know.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an effort coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSP) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center). According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the goal of the standards it “to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.” To date, 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted the common core standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Implementation timelines vary from state to state, and common assessments are being developed by The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). USATestprep is committed to having Common Core Resources available for your state as implementation goes forward.

The Mathematics Common Core Coalition has been formed by eight organizations. Members of the coalition include: the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM), the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM), the National Governors Association (NGA), The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The coalition “works to provide expertise and advice on issues related to the effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards for School Mathematics (CCSSM)”.

For more information be sure to look at the Common Core Mathematics Initiative website.

No doubt you have heard about the “Common Core” standards being developed for English and Math. But could the same be on the horizon for social studies? Last week, social studies experts from 18 states met in Charlotte, North Carolina, to discuss ways to improve the prominence of their discipline in the national discourse. But does this mean that national standards are on the horizon? Not necessarily. This article sheds some light on the meeting.

So what do you think: common standards for social studies?