Taking a test? Here are the answers

JUST FOR PARENTS

Advice and strategies to help your children read

February 03, 2002

Just say the word "test" and many people freeze up. It's a loaded word, to be sure, especially when it can affect a grade or placement in school. However, since many crucial educational decisions are often made using test results, it behooves parents and caregivers to learn more about their school's testing program and ways to help their child become better test-takers. Ideally, try to achieve goals that help children go beyond the skill of test-taking to an understanding of how best to solve problems and how to handle unfamiliar situations, not just on tests, but in life.

LEARNING THE LINGO

* "Teacher-made tests" are designed by the teacher to measure knowledge of a particular subject or skill. These tests are usually associated with grades on report cards and are the most common type of test your child will take.

* "Standardized tests" use the same standards to measure student performance across the country. This makes it possible to compare each student's results with others within the same group, age or grade. Standardized tests can be "norm-referenced," which means it compares a student's achievement with those of students in a "norm group," or "criterion referenced," in which the scores indicate whether or not a child's score meet a certain predetermined standard.

PREPARING YOUR CHILD

* Know the school's policy about standardized tests by asking questions.

* Encourage your child to space studying over several sessions rather than one long one. Repetition and review will help the information "sink in" and make your child less likely to forget at exam time.

* Use the night before to relax and get a good night's rest. Children who are tired are less able to pay attention in class or during a test.

TEST TIPS FOR KIDS

* Be sure to know whether or not you will be penalized for guessing. Guess on True-False tests, since you have a 50-50 chance of being right.

* Read all the directions to make sure you know what you are supposed to do. Ask for help if you don't understand them.

* Check your work.

-- Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Save the species, be an ambassador

What one thing could your child do to help save an endangered animal in our region? Give Mutual of Omaha a truly original and realistic solution that other kids their age (9-12) could implement and that young conservationist could be chosen to attend their Wild Kingdom Kids Summit in Los Angeles in May as the Maryland ambassador.

There, 51 ambassadors (and their accompanying parent or guardian) will be given VIP treatment in exploring the zoo behind the scenes, catching a performance of The Lion King and meeting some as-yet unnamed teen celebrities. All of these activities will be on Mutual of Omaha's tab if your child is the lucky winner.

Kids can get started with their research on their Web site, www.wildkingdom.com, where they'll find information about our region's endangered wildlife, including: West Indian manatees (also known as sea cows), brown pelicans and the Carolina northern flying squirrel. Also at the Web site you'll find a link to the entry form, which you can print out and mail. Good luck!

-- Athima Chansanchai

New York Times Best Sellers List: Children's Chapter Books

Editor's Note: The children's best-seller list has three categories -- picture books, chapter books, and paperbacks -- which are published in rotation, one category per week.

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling (weeks on list: 81)

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling (124)

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling (138)

4. The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket (65)

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling (163)

6. The Reptile Room, by Lemony Snicket (43)

7. Junie B., First Grader (At Last!), by Barbara Park (11)

8. The Hostile Hospital, by Lemony Snicket (20)

9. The Wide Window, by Lemony Snicket (19)

10. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares (14)

Contact us

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on sunspot.net, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to sun.features@baltsun.com; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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