Though some professional educators debate the use of standardized tests, students of all ages can expect such tests to continue to play a role in their education. Younger students might take standardized tests to help determine the class level that best suits their abilities, while high school students will need to take certain standardized tests in order to gain admission to a college or university.
Since standardized tests are likely going nowhere anytime soon, students can take several steps to improve their scores. While a professional tutoring service might be a worthwhile investment for students concerned with their college admissions, other steps can work for students regardless of which standardized test they're preparing to take.
* Maintain healthy sleep patterns. Healthy sleep restores and renews the body, both mentally and physically. When a person suffers from sleep deprivation, the negative side effects are numerous. These include memory and cognitive impairment, making it difficult for people think and process information. That said, a student preparing to take a standardized test who is struggling to sleep at night is much less likely to succeed on the test than a student who is getting adequate sleep. Parents and students should examine sleeping patterns months in advance of the test, and work to address any problems as soon as possible. The sooner the issue is resolved, the sooner a student's memory is likely to improve, which can help his or her test scores as well.
* Practice. Practice tests can be a very valuable tool when attempting to improve standardized test scores. Sample tests are available on a handful of Web sites, and tutors hired to help kids improve scores often bring practice tests with them. Such practice tests are often very similar to the actual tests and will help kids be more comfortable with the tests when it comes time to take the real ones. When taking practice tests, time them just as you would the actual tests. This, too, can improve a student's comfort level and will decrease the likelihood that a student will feel like he or she is racing against the clock when the time comes to take the real test.
* Learn the test. Learning the test involves figuring how a score is determined. Some standardized tests place greater emphasis on certain questions and tabulate scores based on this weighting system. Learn that weighting system if it exists, and in the months leading up to the test help students concentrate on those sections that weigh more heavily than others. Another thing to learn is if the test weighs wrong answers more than skipped questions. On such tests, a student might actually be better off leaving a question blank than guessing and risking a wrong answer. Many tutors specialize in a particular test and might be able to help students learn about the test they're taking and, in so doing, improve their scores.