The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in spring 2012. As can be expected, with the unveiling of a new standardized exam new concerns arose for how to properly prepare students to pass. While there are no fail-safe study methods for preparing for any test, a few techniques can ensure that students are able put their best foot forward on test day.
Practicing With Test Questions
The Texas Education Agency releases sample test questions from each section and level of STAAR on its website. Many of these items are taken from the test bank of questions given in the previous administration of the exam. Working through test questions from a prior year can help students focus on how content knowledge is expected to be applied on the STAAR. By working with released test questions, students are able to better organize the necessary strategies needed to answer each item.
Keep Pace with Classwork
Every day that students enter the classroom is a day of preparation for the STAAR. Using the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills guidelines for each course, educators craft lesson plans that cater to each one of the specific TEKS and present material in a format that allows students to ask questions about concepts they do not understand. Students are able to practice the material via classwork and homework assignments on a daily basis. Staying on top of coursework gives students ample time to thoroughly digest and comprehend the TEKS, which are the standards tested on the exam.
While it is tempting to stay up the night before the STAAR to study last-minute strategies, getting enough rest is actually an important finishing touch to exam preparation. In a longitudinal study published by the Journal of Child Development, researchers found that students who stayed up late to study on any given night experienced more academic challenges the next day. Instead of cramming, make a plan for students to get plenty of rest on the night before the exam by studying a reasonable amount of time each night in the weeks leading up to the exam.
Approach the Test With Confidence
Entering into a testing situation with stress and anxiety can negatively affect performance and outcome. After properly preparing for the STAAR, it is important to curb as much worry associated with taking the exam as possible. A helpful strategy to keep test anxiety at arm's length is to approach the STAAR with confidence. Self-motivation, visualization of successfully completing the test and getting encouragement from friends and family are all excellent ways to build the confidence and mental endurance needed to take the STAAR without fear.
- Texas Education Agency: STAAR Resources
- Texas Education Agency: STAAR Released Test Questions
- Statewide Instructional Resources Development Center: Effective Lesson Planning: Making a Real World Connection
- Texas Education Agency: STAAR Assessed Curriculum
- PBS News Hour Extra: Test Tomorrow? Get Your Sleep
- Study Guides and Strategies: Overcoming test anxiety
Based in Houston, C.P. Brown is a writer with experience in children's fiction, poetry, the arts and education. Her work has appeared in the "Houston Chronicle" and various poetry publications. Brown is the founder of a nonprofit organization that promotes fine arts and a former charter school administrator. She holds a Master of Education from Harvard University.