• Help Your Kids Prepare for Tests


    This spring, students across Tennessee will take statewide tests as part of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). Teachers and school administrators can use TCAP results to help them understand and address the learning needs of their students. 

    Students in grades 3–8 will take the Achievement Test—a timed, multiple-choice exam that measures skills in reading, language arts, math, science and social studies. High school students will take End of Course (EOC) exams for English I, English II, English III, Algebra I, Algebra II, U.S. History, Biology I and Chemistry.

    Parents’ involvement with a child’s education before and after any test can help students achieve their goals in the classroom. Here are some things you and your students can do to prepare for statewide assessments—or any test taken throughout the year.


    During the school year:

    1.     Know the schedule. Be aware of your school’s standardized testing dates and times

    2.     Be vigilant. Make sure that your child attends school regularly. Encourage your child to ask questions at home and in class.

    3.     Make time for homework. Set aside time each day for your child to complete all homework assignments in a quiet space designated for studying. Remove any distractions from the study area.

    4.     Set goals. Discuss the importance of long-term goals and a good education with your child.

    5.     Encourage your child. Children who are afraid of failing are more likely to become anxious when taking tests and more likely to make mistakes. Praise them when they do a good job.

    6.     Get the teacher involved. Meet with your child’s teacher throughout the school year to discuss their progress and help them improve their understanding of schoolwork. Communicate any concerns you may have regarding your child’s performance with the child and their teacher.

    7.     Find a tutor. If needed, ask the teacher if a private tutor is available.

    8.     Read educational materials. Ask the teacher to suggest activities for you and your child to do at home to help prepare for the test, get suggestions for educational books from your local library, or access the free Tennessee Electronic Library(TEL), a website with more than 400,000 resources for children and teens, from magazines, e-books and encyclopedias to test preparation materials. By reading new materials, a child will learn new words that might appear on a test. Resources such as TEL can also help kids learn more about math, science, geography, state history, the arts and other subjects.

    9.     Take practice exams. Study samples of practice tests from the Tennessee Department of Education. 

    10.   Get more tips. Find more helpful test preparation suggestions from the U.S. Department of Education

    On the day of testing:

    1.     Eat healthily. Provide a nutritious breakfast for your child.

    2.     Get enough sleep. Be sure that your child is well-rested.

    3.     Be on time. Make sure your child is at school with plenty of time to get settled and relaxed.

    4.     Reduce stress. Do not cause your child any unnecessary anxiety regarding the test.

    And remember: All of the above habits should be practiced not only on the day of testing but throughout the year.

    After the test:

    1.     Stay calm. If your child doesn’t do well, don’t get upset because of a single test score. Many things can influence how your child does on a test, including anxiety and stress. Don’t place so much emphasis on your child’s test scores that you lose sight of their well-being.

    2.     Review the results. Review a graded exam paper with your child. Read and discuss all comments that the teacher writes on a returned test. If any comments aren’t clear, tell your child to ask the teacher to explain them. Discuss the wrong answers with your child and find out why they chose the answers. Sometimes a child didn’t understand or may have misread a question. Or, they may have known the correct answer but failed to make their answer clear.

    3.     Meet with the teacher. If needed, schedule a meeting with the teacher to discuss your child’s test results.

    4.     Be supportive. Praise your child for hard work and good effort.


    1.     Plan ahead. Start studying for the test well in advance. Make sure that you understand what material the test will cover. Try to make connections about what will be on the test and what you already know. Review the material more than once.

    2.     Don’t “cram” the night before. This will likely increase your anxiety, which will interfere with clear thinking. Get a good night’s sleep.

    3.     Read the instructions carefully. When you get the test, read the directions before you begin work. If you don’t understand how to do something, ask the teacher to explain.

    4.     Understand the test. Look quickly at the entire test to see what types of questions are on it (multiple-choice, matching, true/false, essay). See if different questions are worth different numbers of points. This will help you determine how much time to spend on each part of the test.

    5.     Manage your time. If you don’t know the answer to a question, skip it and go on. Don’t waste time worrying about one question. Mark it and, if possible, return to it before the end of the test time and try again.