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STAAR Test Taking Strategies

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
STAAR tests can be nerve-wracking for students, along with their parents and teachers. Read on to learn about the best STAAR test-taking strategies to take the stress out of STAAR test days.

Strategies For STAAR Test Taking

Because performance on STAAR assessments may dictate whether students advance to the next grade (or graduate from high school), proper test preparation and mastery of test-taking techniques are critical. Strategies for success include knowing what to expect, being comfortable with the length and structure of the tests, and having the right mindset and attitude.

Strategy One: Be Prepared for Content

The number one test-taking strategy for students taking STAAR tests is to be prepared and know the material covered on the tests. These assessments measure the skills and knowledge students have acquired in their classes, so reviewing that material in advance is important. Along with going back over lessons and notes, STAAR-specific test-prep resources are an excellent way to refresh knowledge. Study.com's STAAR assessment study, prep, and practice guides, for example, may be used as a supplemental resource for teachers, or for parents and students looking to prepare at home in advance of the tests. These online courses feature short lessons, assessment quizzes and practice tests. To see what the courses have to offer, check out:

Strategy Two: Be An Experienced Test Taker

When students understand what it is like to take the test, they eliminate the anxiety of fearing the unknown. Practicing ahead of test day, therefore, is an important test-taking strategy. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) offers sample questions and test forms, along with answer keys, for all STAAR assessments. They may be downloaded on the TEA website (http://tea.texas.gov/).

Once they understand the types of questions they'll be asked on each test, students may also benefit from brushing up on best practices for answering those questions. For example, check out these quick lessons on how to answer multiple-choice questions and essay writing tips.

Strategy Three: Be Relaxed, Comfortable and Confident

Content knowledge and test-taking experience will only go so far if a student is not mentally and physically prepared for their tests. For this reason, these tips are important for all students during STAAR test periods:

  • Sleep. Because tests are four or five hours long, it's important to be well-rested.
  • Eat Right. Eat a balanced breakfast and bring healthy snacks for test day. To keep energy levels up and avoid crashing, don't have too much sugar or caffeine.
  • Take Breaks. A STAAR test is not a race. It's important that students go at their own paces and take breaks.
  • Dress Comfortably. Make sure to dress in layers in clothes that are comfortable for long periods of time.
  • Be Confident. A positive attitude goes a long way. Students who stress about tests may want to review this short lesson on how to beat test anxiety.
  • Plan a Treat. Give yourself (or your student) something to look forward to. Plan something special - be it a movie, favorite dinner, or other outing - to celebrate when testing is finished.

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