Well, it’s about that time again: more tests, more stress. Students and educators around the nation are concerned with their SAT and ACT test scores. Most of their efforts are focused on increasing their scores based on their academic efforts. What if there were a quick and easy way to ensure you’re maximizing the results of your students’ hard work and study? Though we can neither prevent the tests nor keep students from fretting over them, we can attempt to reduce some of the stress the tests induce. What follows is some advice we’ve given to our own students, and have attempted to heed in our own lives. Feel free to pass this on down the line.

1. Don’t Cram
Just hearing the word “cram” conjures painful images that can be counter-productive. Instead, encourage students to review plenty in the days and weeks before the test. Of course, even the most-urged advice may not find purchase with your flock. We can try, though.

2. Get Moving
Students need to blow off some steam during testing time, so they should get some exercise. Not only is this good for their bodies, but studies show that it can help jog their memory too (pun intended).

3. Water, Please
Hydrate in the days leading up to testing, not just the day of or the day before.

4. No Jitters
Just like teachers, many students have massive infusions of caffeine each day. But they should avoid having too much of it on test day. Having the caffeine jitters can distract their focus and lead to a poorer performance than they normally would experience. Speaking of which…

5. First Door on the Left
Be sure to remind them to hit the bathroom before the test. ‘Nuff said.

6. Dress in Layers
Ok, not the MOST important tip, but it often seems that testing sites might double as meat lockers.  If students have a sweater to put on- or a t-shirt to pare down should it actually be warm- they can help regulate their body temperature and focus more on the test.

7. What’s the Point?
Be sure they bring plenty of writing implements. Two sharpened pencils and two pens? That should do, but have a few others just to be safe. After all, minds aren’t the only things that get dull or dry up over the course of a test.

This great infographic shows a few more non-academic ways to make the most out of testing day. The first couple are fairly obvious, get sleep and eat well. The rest of them, not so much. They include body language, inner dialog, gum, and others.

Groza Learning Center Shares 8 Hacks to Improve SAT and ACT Test Scores

Clearly, there are more tips, but applying these can help calm more pre-test nerves (for both of you). Read more at the Groza Learning Center.

kirbyAbout the Author
Kirby Spivey taught AP World History, US History, and many other Social Studies courses in Georgia. He and his wife live in Atlanta, GA. Both he and his wife still have nightmares about being unprepared for final exams.

Student Dot Rank Settings

  • On any content area page, students can track their own progress and proficiency.
  • Proficiency is displayed using Dot Rank, our system of green, orange, pink, and grey dots.
  • Students have two options to calculate their Dot Rank scores — best practice question set only or cumulative total of all test, benchmark, and practice questions.
  • New easy toggle at the top of the page makes it easy to switch views.
  • Click on the Dot Rank link to view scoring breakdown for each color dot.
  • Vocabulary, performance tasks, and videos are tracked through the Progress bar.

Watch a video about the Dot Rank settings.

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Did You Know…?

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The day after a test, every math teacher has heard this student complaint:

“But I did all my homework, and I got the problems right! How could I have made a 50 on the test?”

Of course, the question is usually intended to advertise the student’s powerful work ethic, and perhaps to give the teacher a twinge of guilt for having flunked him.

On the other hand, if the student really has been working hard on the homework, then there may be some easy adjustments he can make to improve his results. Ask these questions:

  • Are you making yourself too comfortable when you work?

A common mistake is for students to work on math problems in too relaxed a posture. They should be sitting at a desk, with minimal distractions, and working the problems exactly as if they were testing.

  • Do you have too many reference aids? Are you using your notes, homework problems, formula sheets, stuffed animals, Twitter buddies, etc.?

Students often practice with far more assistance than they will have on the test. Stress to them that EVERY problem should be attempted — at least to begin with — as though it were being done on a test. Students should get as far as they can and then, if they get stuck, try to get just enough information to continue the problem, but no more. They may have to resort to little “tricks” to make this happen; for example, covering the bottom part of a solution so as to see only the next step, or asking a friend to tell them what the next step is, etc.

  • Are you checking every problem — NOT by looking at a solution, but on your own?

It is just as important to practice the checking process as it is to practice the solving process. On a test you do not have a place to look to see quickly whether your answers are right — you have to decide if your answer is reasonable and check it on your own. Do this every time to develop this extremely useful habit! You may be surprised at how many of your own errors you can catch, and learn from.

The goal of all these items is the same: Complete all your practice as if you are working on a test. Do not fool yourself into thinking you are “getting them all right” when, in fact, you are only getting them after checking your notes, trying ten formulas from your sheet, calling two friends (including Uncle Frank, the math professor), and posting a request on a homework help site.

All Practice Is Test Practice!

larry-headshotAbout the Author
A former math teacher in Georgia, Larry Coty is now USATestprep’s Math Content Team Leader. He has two daughters and resides in Tucker, GA.

felicia-shotDiscover how to utilize USATestprep through classroom stations. You’ll learn about five key stations that can be used in your classroom. Join USATestprep expert and former teacher, Felicia Zorn, live to learn about these five, student-centered stations that will transform your teaching approach.

The Token System is Here!

  • Students earn tokens for completing assignments and independent practice activities
  • Students earn varying amounts of tokens based on performance and type of activity
  • Students do not earn tokens for benchmark assessments
  • Students can spend tokens to play games in the new arcade
  • Students have free play games to choose from as well, but those games incorporate questions
  • Teachers can check a student’s token history and even lock the game arcade when necessary
  • Many games have transitioned to the new arcade, which means fewer options within the assignment system

Watch the video below to learn more about the token system:

Free Response

Need to add your own free response questions? Now you can! In Step 3 when creating a benchmark, click the button to author a new question. Decide between multiple choice and free response, then input your question. If adding a free response question, an answer key and keywords are optional.

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Newly Released On-Demand Webinars

Click here to log in and view our new webinars resource.

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New Ambassador Program

Would you like to receive free perks and be recognized for your passion? Then check out USATestprep’s new Ambassador Program. Our Ambassadors help spread the word and educate teachers about USATestprep. In exchange, Ambassadors are rewarded with free swag, online recognition, first-to-know status, and more! Apply here to join this exclusive group.

Congratulations on making it to the end of another school year. We trust it was a successful one and that we helped you to prepare your students accordingly. As the school year concludes we wanted to make you aware of two things.

Data Management Policy

Before the start of each school year, we do move around some data within our system. We do not delete users – that is a job left for school admins – but some data older than 1 year will be deleted. For complete details, please refer to our data management policy located here in the Help section in the “Downloads” tab.

2016 User Survey

Over 1,600 educators from across 23 states completed our survey.  98% of these respondents felt that USATestprep helped their students review for their tests. We are very proud of this statistic.

Congratulations to Our Winners

These survey-takers had their names drawn and will each receive a $50 Gift Card:

  • Rae from South Carolina

  • Marilyn from Pennsylvania

  • Phillip from Tennessee

As always, thanks for using USATestprep, and have a great summer!

InfoGraphic from CouponBox.com

Here are some new features and tips to help you get more from USATestprep:

Recently-added features:

  • Raw score (“Total Correct” column) added to your benchmark results Excel export.
  • Graphs to track monthly progress by standards and individual students –> You can even save, print, and annotate if needed.

Tips of the month:

  • Need to adjust the due date or add a student to an assignment? Make changes to existing assignments without duplicating them by using the Options menu –> Settings.
  • Can’t see a shared benchmark? Double check that you have your classes associated with that subject area. Go to your Classes tab –> gear icon on the far right –> “Edit Class” button. Add necessary subject(s) in step 1 and save in step 2.
  • Want to instantly create assignments for students to target their weaknesses? Automatically create assignments for students in their three weakest areas from your benchmark results –> Student Dot Rank section. You can then view these assignments within your Assignments tab –> “View Suggested Practice.”
  • Need assistance with anything? Use the Feedback & Contact button located at the bottom of every page to ask questions –> let us help you more quickly! When appropriate, please provide the name of the assignment or benchmark, student, class, etc.

Hope you have had a smooth February!

The USATestprep Team

For the new year, USATestprep has several new features within our Benchmark System.

 

In Step 1 of the Benchmark creation, you can now choose to have questions displayed in Spanish.

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Also, when creating a Custom Benchmark, you can choose to view questions by the passage with which they are associated, and you can select any or all questions with that passage for your benchmark test.

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Finally, on the Preview section of the process, you can rearrange the order of the questions by clicking the up or down arrow next to the question number. Clicking it once will move it one space in the direction of the arrow.

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We know these changes will add to your use of the Benchmark features on USATestprep. Please contact us if you have any questions.