How to Pass Common Core Assessments

Instructor: John Beard
Getting ready for big exams like the Common Core assessments can be stressful, especially if you're struggling with the material to begin with. This article discusses creating an organized study plan and locating resources that can aid you with any weak areas you may have.

Preparing for Common Core Assessments

The good news is, you've been studying the information on Common Core assessments in your normal classes all year. You don't have to reinvent the wheel here. You just need an organized approach to reviewing the material that will be tested and possibly getting a little help with any concepts you may be struggling with.

A study published in 2013, Improving Students' Learning With Effective Learning Techniques, highlighted some methods of study that are better than many other traditional techniques. One technique is called practice testing, which is fairly straightforward. You take the quizzes at the end of the chapters in your textbook, use flashcards for memorization of vocabulary and key concepts, take actual practice tests meant to simulate the assessment you are studying for, or other similar activities. You may consider taking one practice exam a week, then using your results to plan your studies for the next week.

Another technique that was found to be effective in the study is called distributed practice. This simply means spreading your study time out over several weeks and not pulling long marathon sessions one or two days before the test. Of course, the hardest part about studying this way is making yourself schedule time to do it. How much less stressful though to sit down for a few minutes several times a week starting well ahead of time? Just when you're getting bored, it's time to quit for the day. The research associated this method with much better long-term retention of knowledge than cramming.

Depending on where you live, if you are dealing with the Common Core curriculum, you will likely be taking an assessment by one of the two federally funded testing consortia, PARCC or Smarter Balanced. You will find practice tests on both of these sites. There are other sites online that offer practice assessments, but these are the big ones.

So You Need a Little Help

Everyone struggles with one subject or another. The good news is that there are many tutorials available online to help you out. has numerous courses available by subject and grade level that have been specifically designed to help students working with Common Core State Standards. These courses feature engaging video lessons along with lesson transcripts and practice quizzes. The following is a very partial list (other courses can be found by searching the site):

The web is crawling with tutoring options. Some are free and others are paid services. The important thing if you are going down this road is to find an option that will work for you and that is as enjoyable as possible. After all, with your distributed practice, you will be spending a fair amount of time on your studies.

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