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How To Improve Test Taking Skills

How to improve your test taking skillsTest taking skills: The number one mistake parents make when helping their child study

The scenario goes like this. “I get so frustrated when I try to help my child study, we both end up in tears”. My follow up question is this: “How do you help them”? Then the truth is revealed. I do

believe that every parent has the best intentions when assisting their child in studying. However, more than not, they do it wrong and here is why. Every parent that has complained about the

struggle always ends up telling me how they studied and how they learn best and what test taking skills they had. My response often shocks the parents while the child grins from ear to ear, knowing that I have just gotten real. I look at the parent and then I say, “Will you be the one taking the test? If the answer is no (which by the way I know is true) then why are you studying the way that you would do it?” While this may seem a little harsh, it is spoken with love and strategy. The strategy being, let’s find the best way for your child to study.

Here are the top 5 ways to improve test taking skills and reduce the struggle to improve test scores


  1. Help your child do good in school by listening to your child’s wants and needs

    If your child tells you that he needs music in order to study then let him listen to music. I recommend headphones if doing so. I also recommend exploring this website: This sight combines neuroscience and music to boost productivity and tune out distractions and offers free trials. Please don’t require your child to sit in a chair as tall as a toy soldier and memorize the declaration of independence. Studying should be geared towards the child’s learning styles and I have yet to find a kid who prefers sitting in a chair, feet on the floor, and facing forward, to study after sitting all day in school. Research shows that movement  assists the brain in learning.

  1. Utilize technology to improve test taking skills

    There are wonderful Apps that will engage your child and make learning and studying fun. Always evaluate if your child will learn something..Check reviews online first before letting your children use an app. Any app that encourages and engages your child in learning is a good app.
    Here are a few that I know work well:

    1. Spelling City for spelling,
    2. Sushi Monster
    3. Visual Manipulative’s for Math
    4. Quizlet
    5. My Study Life
    6. Doodlebuddy for test taking
  1. Good Test Taking Strategy: Plan ahead

    At the beginning of the school year find a calendar system that works for you and your child. Then be consistent and implement it. I recommend posting it somewhere central where everyone will see. As a parent, a good test taking strategy is writing all activities, school schedules, and special events on the calendar. When the child is old enough to write on the calendar himself, encourage him to take charge and write all upcoming tests and projects on the calendar. This visual will assist everyone in time management and preparation. Train your child how to utilize the calendar. Every Sunday I recommend sitting down together to go over the weeks events. Then remind the child nightly to reference it prior to the next day.

  1. Test taking skill: Break the studying time into chunks

    This is important if your child has multiple tests or homework assignments. Use a timer and set it for 20 minutes. At the end of every 20 minutes have your child move and have a brain break.

  1. Build up your child’s self esteem – Cheer Cheer Cheer

    What sounds like the easiest way to help, I find is sometimes the hardest for parents to do. Avoid projecting anxious thoughts onto your child. If you see your child is having a hard time retaining the information and you are worried that they will not do well on the test, avoid telling this to your child. Instead, use positive affirmation and words of encouragement. You will be shocked how quickly your positive words carry into the test taking situation. On the other hand a child who knows the content but conjures up negative thoughts in a test taking situation can easily shut down his working memory if those anxious thoughts take hold, and blow the entire exam.


If you follow these simple suggestions, the tears will quickly turn to jeers as you and your child celebrate many years of test taking success!