SAILING TO STAAR SUCCESS
By Leah Mei Guttentag
The end of the year and STAAR testing are rapidly approaching. Because of this, teachers have been starting test prep to familiarize students with the material they will see on the two (or more) tests they will be taking. While 6th graders only take a reading and a math test, 7th graders will be taking a writing test as well, and 8th graders will be taking a science and a social studies test. This testing is happening on May 8th and 9th for 6th and 7th grade math and reading respectively. The 8th graders are taking their math STAAR on March 28th, reading on the 29th, science on May 11th, and social studies on May 12th.
With STAAR so close, taking advantage of test prep is essential for each student to do their personal best. Paying attention in class and using the resources teachers give out are just some of the ways to be set up for success. For those willing to take the initiative, past essays and test questions are available online for students to review and quiz themselves on. For example, the website http://www.houstonisd.org/STAAR offers sample questions for all grade levels as well as more information about the test.
Next to mental preparation, physical preparation is the next most important. Contrary to popular belief, cramming for the test the night before is counterproductive. It’s better to do something enjoyable and then get a good night’s sleep than to stay up all night worrying. An alternative to studying that can help with peace of mind is to pack your bag the night before. It is important to remember #2 pencils, erasers, and (non messy) snacks. A book, a waterbottle, and a jacket can also be added in for maximum comfort. Packing the night before ensures that students have nothing to worry about in the morning besides eating a healthy breakfast.
Of course, once the test arrives good strategies are what can make or break a student’s scores. Eliminating answer choices, trusting the first answer, checking each question, and skipping confusing questions are good test taking strategies. Some, like checking each question, may seem like a pain, but in the long run 10 minutes checking is worth a better score. Similarly, any skipped questions may seem clearer if returned to later with a different perspective. Staying calm and utilizing strategies helps students to work thoroughly and to the best of their abilities.
With the proper preparation, routine, and strategy, STAAR testing can be stress free! Thinking ahead can help with overall confidence when going into testing. From test prep to the test day, working hard and planning ahead can help students to do their best!