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How to Teach Test Prep

This year I’m teaching two classes of seventh grade honors English-language arts. I usually teach the reading intervention classes and the remedial English class to help “catch students up while they keep up” with grade-level instruction. It’s been awhile since I’ve taught such precocious twelve-year-olds as these honors students.

After our first unit test, the honor students were shocked at the results. Some 20% of the students failed their first grammar, vocabulary, spelling, reading strategies, and elements of plot exam. Of course I produced a nice study guide and plenty of review and I told the students that those who study will get A’s and B’s and those who don’t will get D’s and F’s. I also emailed parents to suggest that they help their gifted sons and daughters study. Yes, after the test I got quite a few parent emails asking if they should transfer their child out of such a “challenging” class.

You see these honors students have never had to study in their elementary classes. In fact, many of my honors students don’t know how to study. We so often assume that test study is just “doing it.” However, thinking a bit about it… we realize that there are quite a few tips about how to study for tests.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

I added on a quick set of “how to study for and take tests” lessons to prepare my students for the second unit test. Yes, they did much better.

These lessons are part of my Essential Study Skills curriculum. Check out these FREE LESSONS here.

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

I developed 40 lessons like these for regular classes, study skills electives, advocacy classes, advisory periods, opportunity classes, substitutes, and rainy day activities. You get the idea. Each of the 40 lessons has a focused goal-setting activity, a great one page teacher-directed lesson, and a personal reflection page.

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Free Resources for Teaching Study Skills

Teachers frequently are shocked by their students’ lack of study skills. Some teachers assume that most study skills are simply common sense and do not need instruction. Or, maybe each teacher thinks that “some other teacher” should or has already taught them. From my own teaching experience, I have come to believe that study skills are not caught, but must be taught.

All content teachers have the responsibility to teach these essential learning skills. Mastering study skills will help your students “work smarter, not harder.” If students learn these skills, they will spend less time, but accomplish more during homework and study time. Students will memorize better and forget less. Their test study will be more productive and students will achieve better grades. Reading comprehension, speed, and retention will improve. Writing will more coherent and essays will be easier to plan and complete.

Following are articles, free resources (including reading assessments), and teaching tips regarding how to teach the essential study skills from the Pennington Publishing Blog. Bookmark and visit us often. Also, check out the quality instructional programs and resources offered by Pennington Publishing.

Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/summer-daily-brainwork/

Looking to prevent summer brain-freeze and help your child get a jump start on the next school year? The tips from Summer Daily Brainwork will teach your child to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time.

How to Avoid Procrastination

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This article explains why people procrastinate and gives you the tools that will help replace bad habits with good ones. Learn how to develop a workable plan to avoid procrastination. These practical, easy-to-understand suggestions will help you avoid putting off until tomorrow what you could be doing today.

Daily School and Work Review

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Memory research tells us that we remember up to 70% of new information if that information is practiced within 24 hours. Learn how to practice key information from school and the workplace to interrupt the “forgetting cycle.”

How to Take Notes

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Some teachers seem to feel that knowing how to take notes is simply a matter of common sense. However, this is simply not true. Taking effective notes is a skill. Good note-taking can improve comprehension of the information presented in class and in textbooks. It can also help organize for test study. This article teaches the best strategies for note-taking success.

How Margin Notes are Better than the Yellow Highlighter

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The key to reading comprehension and retention is interactive reading. To prepare effectively for tests and discussion, marginal annotations prompt that internal dialogue with the author. This article provides the prompts you need to annotate texts well and tells why you should get rid of your yellow highlighters.

How to Get Motivated and Set Goals: The Top Ten Tips

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Motivation and goal-setting techniques should work together to produce effective behavioral change. This article will give you the plan to avoid procrastination and develop the discipline needed to achieve your goals.

How to Study: The Top Ten Tips

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Good students have learned that knowing how to study is just as important as knowing what to study. Good study habits are not just common sense; they have to be learned and practiced. This article discusses how to create a study environment and gives practical tips on how to study effectively.

Six Steps to Active Listening

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Good listening skills need to be learned and practiced. They are not just common sense. Learning new habits to replace old ones takes time and patience. However, everyone can improve listening skills by applying the Six Steps to Active Listening found in this short article.

Top Ten Memory Tips

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Improving memory helps in all walks of life: business, school, and relationships. Learning and applying the Top Ten Memory Tips will significantly improve your short and long term memory. Who knows? After reading this list, you just might remember where you left your car keys.

How to Memorize Using the Grouping Technique

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This simple memory technique will help students of all ages place many items into the long term memory. Using the grouping technique, the seeming trivia of the academic disciplines is organized into meaningful and memorable categories. Score higher on tests and make study fun by learning the way our brains are organized.

How to Memorize Using the Catch Words Technique

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Improve your long term memory by using catch words. Students will especially appreciate how catch words will help organize their test study. Catch words are useful for simple day to day facts that need to be memorized. You may also figure out why “ROY G. BIV” has helped millions remember the colors of the rainbow in order.

How to Memorize Using the Catch Sentences Technique

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Learn how to significantly improve your long term memory by using catch sentences. Students will especially love how catch sentences will help organize their test study. Catch sentences are useful for many aspects of daily life. You may also figure out why “Every good boy does fine” has helped millions learn to play the piano.

How to Memorize Using the Association Technique

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Need to improve your long term memory? The association memory trick will help students prepare more efficiently for tests. The trick will help sales people remember names. Learn how to significantly improve your long term memory by using catch sentences. You may also find out how the memory experts can memorize the names of an entire studio audience.

How to Memorize Using the Linking Technique

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The linking memory technique is one of the best memory methods to memorize lists of seemingly unrelated objects. Learn how to significantly improve your long term memory by using the linking strategies. Once you’ve made a link, you won’t have to think—you’ll just remember.

How to Memorize Using the Location Memory Technique

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Location! Location! Location! The real estate professionals haven’t cornered the market on this strategy. Developed by the ancient Greeks, using familiar locations to memorize many ideas or objects has always proved a full-proof method of memorization. Have a speech or business presentation? This article will give you the tools to place the words into your long term memory.

How to Memorize Using the This Old Man Technique

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Who would think that a simple nursery rhyme, “This Old Man,” could help you memorize ten completely unrelated items in perfect order. Great for a business presentation. Useful for test study. Wonderful for a grocery or any to-do list. Once learned, the information will be retained in the long term memory.

More Articles, Free Resources, and Teaching Tips from the Pennington Publishing Blog

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Find the best school-wide and individual study skills curricula in the affordable Essential Study Skills the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program, AVID, and student leadership classes. Often, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because they don’t try hard enough, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. 128 pages

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Free Resources for Test Preparation

Like most teachers, I teach test preparation strategies in my content area-English-language arts. I teach how to study and how to take tests. As an MA Reading Specialist, I happen to think that it’s an important reading skill. However, despite pressures from some to teach to the annual state and district standardized tests, I just smile and continue to teach to the established standards and to the needs of my students. In other words, I think I teach what I’m supposed to teach and to whom. Not all of my colleagues share my views. We just have a basic, honest disagreement on this matter.

Some of my colleagues support teaching “power standards” and use “release questions” to practice for the annual standardized tests. Some spend considerable amounts of time composing benchmark assessments in the standardized test format. Some colleagues plan mini-lessons to address relative weaknesses indicated through item analyses of the test data. Some minimize instruction in content and/or skills that are untested or seem to be relative strengths. Some plan and prioritize their instructional minutes and assessments to match the percentage allotment of test questions. If 7% of the subtest consists of word analysis questions, then they plan 7% of their instructional delivery time and 7% of the questions on their unit tests to match. Some essentially abandon instruction the last week or so prior to the standardized test in order to review test-taking strategies and practice test questions. The standardized test certainly does drive instruction for some teachers, and they readily admit that this is the case.

Now I’d like to report that my method of teaching to the standards and students produces superior standardized test results than my more zealous standardized test colleagues; however, states wisely have precluded this kind of data analysis. But, to be completely honest… If we were able to determine that my colleague achieved superior test scores, I doubt whether I would alter much of my instruction accordingly. I don’t think I’m stubborn or close-minded. I steal from my colleagues all the time, but I better trust the process of teaching to the standards and to my students than the process of teaching to the standardized test.

Following are articles, free resources, and teaching tips regarding how to prepare students for test preparation from the Pennington Publishing Blog. Bookmark and visit us often. Also, check out the quality instructional programs and resources offered by Pennington Publishing.

Test Preparation

How to Study in Advance for Tests

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-study-in-advance-for-tests/

Although cramming for a test is somewhat effective, studying over a period of days prior to the test gets better results. Learn how to prepare in advance by practicing a daily review of notes, asking the right questions of the teacher, and forming a study group. This article details the best advance strategies for test success.

How to Take Tests

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Although your effective test study does increase the likelihood of test success, it is only half of the equation. The other critical half is how you take the test. Developing a test plan will reduce stress, manage time, and maximize success. This article details the best strategies for taking a test.

How to Reduce Test Anxiety

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Test anxiety plagues students of all ages. This article teaches you how to relax and build test-taking confidence with positive self-talk and practical strategies.

How to Take Multiple Choice Tests

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Learn how to strategically guess on multiple choice sections. These multiple choice tips will help you get the grade you want by eliminating selection mistakes. Learn how multiple choice tests are constructed and take advantage of this to maximize your test score. Hint: the answer isn’t always “C.”

The Top Nine Tips to Taking True-False Tests

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Students say that they like true-false tests; however, it is hard to earn an A on these types of tests. This article details the tips that will maximize your scores on these test sections. Learn how to strategically guess on true-false tests. Everything you learn will be true, of course.

The Top Ten Tips to Taking Matching Tests

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Learn how to strategically guess on matching sections. These tips will help you get the grade you want by eliminating selection mistakes. Learn how matching tests are constructed and take advantage of this to maximize your test score.

The Sweet Sixteen Strategies for SAT® Success

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/the-sweet-sixteen-strategies-for-sat®-success/

Just sixteen general strategies will help you make a significant difference on both the SAT® and ACT® test. Warning: Don’t assume you already know these tips; these are not just “common sense” test-taking strategies. Use these strategies with readily available online practice tests and watch your scores improve.

How to Answer the SAT® Sentence Completion Test Problems

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Most SAT®-takers generally think that the SAT sentence completion sections are relatively easy. After all, they are just fill in the blanks. However, many students can be shocked to find out that their test results in this section can be lower than those from the passage-based sections. This article shares the best strategies to help SAT-takers significantly increase their SAT scores on the sentence completion test problems.

How to Answer the SAT® Passage-Based Reading Test Problems

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The SAT passage-based reading sections can create a stumbling block for SAT test-takers. Many students score poorly on these sections; however, using the memorable strategies explained in this article will help SAT-takers significantly increase their SAT scores on the passage-based critical reading section. Learn how to beat the SAT with these effective strategies.

How to Get a 12 on the SAT® Essay

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The SAT essay can produce time management challenges and difficulties for SAT-takers. Many students score poorly on this section; however, using the AEC  TP  IT  2B  RCP strategies will help SAT-takers significantly increase their SAT scores on the SAT essay section.

How to Learn SAT® Vocabulary

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/spelling_vocabulary/how-to-learn-sat-vocabulary/

SAT®-takers find the critical reading sections challenging because both the sentence completion and passage-based reading sections are so vocabulary dependent. You may not have a huge academic vocabulary, but some concentrated study and knowing the following strategies can make a significant difference in your scores. Here are the short-cuts you need to succeed.

The Phenomenal Five Objective Test Tips

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Objective tests pose many problems for test-takers. Knowing the strategies of how to answer multiple choice, matching, fill in the blank, and true-false test problems can significantly improve ones overall test scores. This article details the five best objective test-taking strategies.

More Articles, Free Resources, and Teaching Tips from the Pennington Publishing Blog

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Find the best school-wide and individual standardized test preparation to accompany state test release questions in the affordable Essential Study Skills–the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program, and student leadership classes. Often, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because they don’t try hard enough, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. 

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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Essential Study Skills

From a child’s point of view, there are advantages and disadvantages to having a teacher as a parent. The time off over holidays and summer vacations certainly provides plenty of options for family activities. However, that additional time at home also means plenty of opportunities for learning and character development.

In our household, Dad was the teacher, and he had three sons. So this meant plenty of sports and outdoor adventures. This also meant that we were given a choice every summer: 4 hours of summer school each day at the nearby public school or 90 minutes of daily supervised instruction at home. It was not much of a choice. Each summer we chose the option that Dad affectionately labeled as Essential Study Skills.

Despite our relief at finally graduating from Dad’s Essential Study Skills once we got summer jobs or took community college classes during our high school years, we have to admit that we learned quite a few useful skills each summer. The study skills were especially helpful, and to this day, we don’t understand why these skills are not taught and re-taught to mastery during the regular school year by “regular” teachers.

Maybe these study skills are not introduced because teachers assume that most are simply common sense and do not require  instruction. Or, maybe each teacher thinks that “some other teacher” should or has already taught them. From our personal experiences, study skills need to be taught, not just caught.

Parents can use the time off over holidays and during summer vacations to teach the study skills that teachers “did not have the time” to teach during the school year. Here’s how to develop your own Essential Study Skills plan for each of your children.

-Find out what your child’s relative weaknesses are by giving brief diagnostic tests. Check out these free diagnostic tests in phonics, spelling, grammar, and mechanics, just to name a few. Design short lessons to address those weaknesses.

-Have your child read for 30 minutes a day in a book at his or her challenge level. Not sure how to help your child pick a book that will best develop the vocabulary and comprehension skills that your child needs to achieve optimal growth? Check out these helpful articles: How We Learn Vocabulary from Reading Part II and Interactive Reading: Making a Movie in Your Head.

-Have your child study Greek and Latin vocabulary game cards. Which word parts should they memorize? Check out this article.

-Have your child develop his or her writing style and build writing fluency by spending 30 minutes a day writing journals, thank-you notes, blogs, emails, stories, or essays, while using the techniques taught in this article: How to Improve Your Writing Style with Grammatical Sentence Openers.

-Buy this fantastic self-guided resource: Essential Study SkillsThe forty lessons in Essential Study Skills (eBook) will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Often, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because they don’t try hard enough, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable.

Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. Ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, advocacy/advisory, opportunity program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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Learn Vocabulary by Reading

Don’t read this article if you susceptible to thin-skin teacher disease. The typical vocabulary instruction in many classrooms includes passing out a “big words” list of 20 vocabulary terms on Monday and quizzing on this list on Friday. Starting to cringe? And now the “buts” start to formulate. Some of the “buts” will focus on the content of the list: “But half of those words are from the literature selections this week” or “But half of those words are SAT® words” or “But half of those words are grade-level words that my students should know.” Other “buts” will focus on the learning process: “But I make them write out each word ten times” or “But I make them create game cards for each word” or “But I have them underline the prefixes and suffixes and circle the roots.” The last “but” is all-too pervasive, if some of us are truly honest about why we really teach what and how we teach: “But that’s what and how I learned, and I turned out okay.”

The problem with the typical vocabulary instructional practice described above is not necessarily the content, nor the teaching approach. Indeed, the problem is one of effectiveness. According to research, “Rote memorization of words and definitions is the least effective instructional method resulting in little long-term effect (Kameenui, Dixon, Carine 1987).”

If students remember all 20 words, each week for the entire school year, they will have mastered 600 words. Now, realistically, if teachers got students to remember half of those words by the end of the year (think standardized test), most would be pleased. That leaves 300 words mastered per school year.

But, the American lexicon is over 800,000 words, and the SAT® word bank is over 30,000 words. Students need to learn 3,000 new words per year just to make one grade level progress (Honig 1983). Learning 300 words per year is a very small drop in a very big bucket. So, not only is rote word memorization ineffective, it is also inefficient.

Additionally, teaching vocabulary isolated from reading and spelling instruction ignores the structural components of words: phonics (decoding) and spelling (encoding), as well as the meaning-making purpose of words: understanding (comprehension) and communication (syntax, tone, clarity, etc).

At this point, frustration sets in… Even the most dedicated teachers might be thinking “Why teach vocabulary at all, then? Maybe students will just learn it on their own” or “I can’t spend any more time, teaching more words, than I already do. After all, I have reading skills, literary analysis, spelling, grammar, writing etc. to teach, as well” or “If I ignore it, it just might go away.”

For thick-skinned teachers who have made it to this point in the article, there is hope. Students can master the 3,000 new words this year that reading experts agree are necessary to achieve two-year-growth in reading levels. Your teaching can impact these levels of vocabulary acquisition. And you don’t have to spend much more class time to teach vocabulary efficiently. So what are the most efficient strategies? I call the two most efficient strategies to vocabulary acquisition 1. Efficient Reading and 2. Efficient Word Study.

Briefly defined, Efficient Reading involves re-orienting your homework assignments to focus on independent level reading with targeted context clues practice. The downsides? This approach requires some additional class time allocated to context clues instruction, additional record-keeping/accountability, and elimination of most other written homework assignments by default. The upsides? Increased vocabulary and comprehension, as well as a high likelihood of creating life-long readers.

Briefly defined, Efficient Word Study involves teaching the survive words: the academic language, literary terms, and those words essential to the understanding of literature selections and the thrive words: the morphological prefixes, roots, and suffixes. The downsides? You will have to spend a bit more class time teaching “deep-level” vocabulary techniques for the survive words. You will also have to spend a bit more class time on Greek and Latinates/word analysis for the thrive words. The upsides? Increased vocabulary and word recognition skills that complement context clue skills.

Here are FREE samples of vocabulary worksheets from this comprehensive program–ready to teach in your class today. Each resource includes directions, four grade-specific vocabulary worksheets, worksheet answers, vocabulary study cards, and a short unit test with answers.

Get the Grade 4 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 5 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 6 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 7 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

Get the Grade 8 Vocabulary Worksheets FREE Resource:

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has written the assessment-based Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs to teach the Common Core Language Standards. Each full-year program provides 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics and include sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) program.

Pennington Publishing's Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)
Grades 4-8 Programs

The author also provides these curricular “slices” of the Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) “pie”: the five Common Core Vocabulary Toolkits Grades 4−8; the five Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4−8 programs (digital formats only); and the non-grade-leveled Teaching Grammar and Mechanics with engaging grammar cartoons (available in print and digital formats).

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Five Objective Test Tips

Answering objective test problems isn’t simply a matter of knowing the answers. Although knowing the answers certainly does help! Establishing an approach to answering objective test problems will help the test-taker best problem-solve and access information reviewed during test study. Having such an approach to every test problem will reduce test anxiety and will also assist in effective time management while completing the exam.

Here is the best approach to answering objective test problems:

1. Read each question or test problem twice before looking at the answers. However, only re-read the question stem, not the answer choices. The question stem is bolded or separated from the answer responses in a multiple-choice or matching section. It is easy to miss a key word if you only read the question or test problem just once.

2. Be alert for certain key words in the test problem and circle these, if permitted. Key words include “absolute words” such as the following:

-not, never, always, completely

and “exception words” such as the following:

-frequently, sometimes, mostly, often, almost, may, can.

3. Try to predict the correct answer before you look at the choices offered. This will provide a mind-set for evaluating the answer choices before you begin to answer. This process also helps to unlock your prior knowledge about the subject gained from test study and life experience.

4. Read all answer choices before selecting an answer. Test-takers frequently say that this strategy helps eliminate rushing though a test and answering impulsively. If failing to read all of the answer choices is a compulsive problem, try reading the answer choices in reverse. Reading bottom to top does not take any more time.

5. Look for the wrong answers first, not the right ones. Using the process of elimination will help you narrow down the answer choices. Your guessing odds are much better with each wrong answer eliminated. Also, it is easier to make a decision between fewer choices than many. After all, isn’t it easier to choose among three ice-cream flavors rather than among thirty-one flavors? Finally, make sure to guess, if not sure of your answer choice.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. em>Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

 

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How to Take Tests

Taking tests can be very stressful experiences. The key to reducing stress and ensuring test success is to develop and follow a test-taking plan. Following a well-designed plan will relax the test-taker, manage time appropriately, and maximize the overall test score.

Let’s walk through how to make that test plan. When your teacher passes out the test, first write down your full name and any additional information required by the teacher. Do not postpone these tasks until later when time constraints may make you forget. Then, take a deep breath and slowly exhale while you practice a little positive “self-talk.” Remind yourself that you have prepared for the exam as much as was possible and that you are excited about the challenge of showing off your knowledge and test study.

Then, skim though the entire test. Read each set of directions, noting what kinds of questions are asked and where. Note how many points can be earned for each section. Divide up the amount of time that you have been allotted for the whole test among the different test sections, based upon how many points each section is worth. For example, don’t spend half of your valuable test-taking time on an essay, if the essay is worth only ten percent of the total points. Write down these allocated time amounts next to the directions for each section in the margins and use these to pace yourself on the test.

Next, write down any memory tricks or essay pre-writes developed from test study in the margins or on scratch paper, if the teacher permits. Get all of the memorized information down on paper in concise form before you begin the test. This will free up your mind to focus on each test problem without thinking about what needs to remembered later on the test.

Decide the order in which you want to complete the test. Usually, it is better to begin an essay after completing the rest of the test. Start with the test sections that will produce the most amount of points. Save the sections that produce fewer points until later.

Test study certainly is vitally important to achieve good test results. However, developing a test plan once the test is passed out is a frequently over-looked component of test success. After all, the best laid plans produce the best results.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. em>Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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Taking True-False Tests

When asked, students often say that they prefer true-false tests. However, the true-false format makes it very difficult to earn a high test score. Learning how to maximize scores on true-false tests will significantly increase test scores. True-false sections remain the staple of many teacher-constructed tests. Here are the tips to “ace” any true-false section on your next test.

1. Read the true-false statement twice before choosing an answer. Test-takers frequently say that this strategy helps eliminate rushing though a test and answering impulsively.

2. True-false tests can be very tricky. Look first at the statement as being true, then if any part of that statement is false, then the whole statement must be false.

3. True-false tests tend to have slightly more true statements than false. Therefore, if you must guess, guess “true.”

4. The longer the true-false statement, the greater is the chance that it is false because it only takes one part of the statement to be false to make the whole statement false.

Example

The moon orbits an average of 240,000 miles away from the earth, has craters and mountains, and is made of cheese.

5. Statements that show cause-effect tend to be false, unless an Exception Word is used. Words or phrases such as the following:

Examples

  • because
  • caused
  • resulted in
  • is the reason that

indicate cause-effect relationships.

Example

Only one U.S. president has been elected four times, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and this caused financial chaos.

6. Extreme statements tend to be false.

Example

Japanese automobiles are all more reliable and cost less than American automobiles.

7. If an Absolute Word such as the following:

  • all
  • only
  • every
  • completely
  • none
  • always
  • never
  • best
  • worst
  • absolutely

is found in an answer choice, the answer choice tends to be false because these words do not allow for exceptions.

8. If an Exception Word such as the following:

  • some
  • most
  • sometimes,
  • frequently
  • often, usually
  • maybe
  • many
  • generally
  • partially

is found in an answer choice, the answer choice tends to be true because these words do allow for exceptions.

9. Finally, make sure to guess, if not sure of your answer choice.
Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. em>Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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How to Take Multiple Choice Tests

Learning how to maximize your scores on multiple choice tests will significantly increase test scores. Multiple choice sections remain the staple of teacher-constructed tests from elementary school through college. They are also the primary format on all standardized tests because the results are easy to grade, quantify, and norm. Norming involves the process of making sure that the test questions predictably achieve a certain number of correct and incorrect answer responses across the state or nation. For example, the SAT® is normed so that half of the student test-takers will get less than and half will get more than 500 out of 800 on each of the three test sections. Here are the tips to “ace” any multiple choice section on your next test.

1. Read all answer choices before selecting an answer. Test-takers frequently say that this strategy helps eliminate rushing though a test and answering impulsively.

2. Try to predict the correct answer before you look at the choices offered. This will provide a mind-set for evaluating the answer choices before you begin to answer. This process also helps to unlock your prior knowledge about the subject gained from test study and life experience.

3. Use the process of elimination. If possible, cross off incorrect answer choices to permit strategic guessing. The fewer the answer choices, the greater is the likelihood of a correct answer selection.

4. Look for grammatical clues to help match. The question stem must match the answer choice. For example, singular must match singular and plural must match plural; also verb tenses must match.

5. The answer should match the language of the test problem or question (positive to positive, negative to negative, grammar, singular or plural, vocabulary).

6. Two close-sounding or looking answers such as “quotient” and “quotation” or 22 and 222 tend to mean that one of the answers is correct.

7. On math tests, if answers cover a wide range, choose the one in the middle.

8. Answer choices that have “Both A and B”, “None of the Above,” or “All of the Above,” or   similar tend to be correct.

9. If you must guess, the second to last answer choice is most frequently correct. The last answer is most frequently incorrect.

10. If an Absolute Word such as the following:

  • all
  • only
  • every
  • completely
  • none
  • always
  • never
  • best
  • worst
  • absolutely

is found in an answer choice, the answer choice tends to be incorrect because these words do not allow for exceptions.

11. If an Exception Word such as the following:

  • some
  • most
  • sometimes,
  • frequently
  • often, usually
  • maybe
  • many
  • generally
  • partially

is found in an answer choice, the answer choice tends to be correct because these words do allow for exceptions.

12. Finally, make sure to guess, if not sure of your answer choice.
Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. em>Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

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The Top Ten Tips to Taking Matching Tests

Learning how to maximize scores on matching tests will significantly increase test scores. Matching sections remain the staple of teacher-constructed tests from elementary school through college. Here are the tips to “ace” any matching section on your next test.

1. Read all answer choices before selecting an answer. Test-takers frequently say that this strategy helps eliminate rushing though a test and answering impulsively.

2. Try to predict the correct answer before you look at the choices offered. This will provide a mind-set for evaluating the answer choices before you begin to answer. This process also helps to unlock your prior knowledge about the subject gained from test study and life experience.

3. Match the easy ones first and cross off to use the process of elimination. Getting rid of answer choices will make the selection process quicker, especially if the matching section is long.

4. The beginning of the numbered matching column tends to match the beginning of the alphabetical matching column. Consider this fact when selecting answer choices. If there are two alphabetic answer choices under consideration, and one is in the same beginning section as the numeric answer choice, select that one.

5. The ending of the numbered matching column tends to match the ending of the alphabetical matching column. If there are two alphabetic answer choices under consideration, and one is in the same ending section as the numeric answer choice, select that one.

6. Look for grammatical clues to help match. For example, singular must match singular and plural must match plural; also verb tenses must match.

7. The answer should match the language of the test problem or question (positive to positive, negative to negative, grammar, singular or plural, vocabulary).

8. Two close-sounding or looking answers such as “quotient” and “quotation” or 22 and 222 tend to mean that one of the answers is correct.

9. On math tests, if answers cover a wide range, choose the one in the middle.

10. Finally, make sure to guess, if not sure of your answer choice.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. em>Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

Study Skills , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Study in Advance for Tests

Good students spread out their test study over time and don’t wait until the night before the test to cram. Learning to work “smarter, not harder” will actually save study time, not increase study time. The smarter approach is to study for tests a bit every day after school. Here’s how to effectively study in advance for tests.

Review and Respond to Notes and Assignments

Every day after school at the beginning of your study time, complete a short review of any notes, worksheets, readings, and assignments that you worked on or covered in class that day. This review interrupts the “forgetting cycle” and will help you prepare in advance for tests. Students retain up to 70% of new information if that information is impressed into the long-term memory within the next 24 hours. The level of retention drops to only 10% after one week. So, plan your study schedule to have a study review time soon after school every day.

Use small sticky notes to record possible test questions and memory tricks for the most important content learned that day. Place the sticky notes in the margins of your materials that you review to maintain the context for test study the night before an exam.

Ask the Right Questions 

Active participation in class is important test study. Students, who contribute to class discussions, avoid passive learning, and pay good attention do better on tests. Asking questions in advance about upcoming tests will focus test study.

“But, what kind of questions should I ask?” Ask what kind of test you will be taking and adjust your study to that kind of test. After all, good test study should include not only study of what will be on the test, but also on how you will be tested. Will the objective section be multiple choice? Will there be an essay? Ask not only what will be on the test, but also ask what won’t be on the test. Teachers rarely include everything on tests that has been covered in class.

Create a Practice Test

Using your sticky notes, make a practice test that covers the test content in the format that you will be tested. Take the time to brainstorm any possible essay questions and pre-write possible main points and supporting details. Create this practice test days before the test itself. Take the test and review any relative weaknesses after taking this test.

Get More Brainpower 

Gather a group of students from the same class to study. Pre-arrange the ground rules for the study session. Set a start and ending time and assign tasks, such as “You bring all the lecture notes; You bring all of the readings; You bring the sticky notes; You bring the chocolate chip cookies.” Assign group members a part of a practice test to develop and share at the study session, including essay pre-writes. More brainpower makes test study fun and increases your likelihood for test success.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

 

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. em>Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

Study Skills , , , , , , ,

How to Reduce Test Anxiety

Test anxiety plagues many students from elementary school through post-graduate work.  Many students literally fear taking tests and can “freeze up” at the first challenging question. Are you one of these students? If so, how can you learn to relax and build test-taking confidence?

First of all, teach yourself that no one is perfect. Perfectionism is a key cause of test anxiety. No student knows all of the answers to every test. No matter how much you have studied, there are bound to be some test problems that will have you stuck for answers. This may not be due to a lack of study. In other words, it’s not your fault. All tests will have test problems beyond your power to control. Avoid practicing perfectionism. Feeling guilty or panic-stricken because of perfectionism is within your power to control. When the test is passed out, take the time to “self-talk.” An internal dialogue such as “I’ve prepared the best that I can for now. I will not get some answers correct. All I can do now is to try my best.”

Second, re-label your emotions. Just labeling your fears of test-taking as “test anxiety” produces a negative personal response. Try re-labeling your condition as “test excitement.” This is not just a psychological manipulation or a con. Anxiety and excitement produce quite similar physiological responses: increased heart rate, increased perspiration, etc. However, the former is certainly perceived as negative, while the latter is seen as positive. Choose the positive over the negative. Add “I am excited about the challenge of taking this test” to your pre-test self-talk ritual.

Finally, let’s get into some practical “nuts and bolts” to reduce test anxiety. Many test-takers do not have an accurate concept of time.

  • Poor time management is a key contributor to test anxiety. SAT® test-takers complain more about time and pacing issues than about the content of the exam. An enlightening experiment is to close your eyes after setting the oven timer to five minutes. Practice gauging the amount of time, without counting, until you get close to the five minutes. It does no good to keep track of how much time to allot to each section of a test, unless you have a good grasp of time. Time recognition is a skill to be learned. It improves with practice.
  • Learn how to quickly mark bubble-in answers accurately. Spend no more than two seconds filling in any answer. Perfectionists waste valuable time on this activity. Your shaded answers don’t have to be overly dark or works of perfect art. If the test allows you to write on the test booklet itself, such as on the SAT®, ACT® , MCAT®, or LSAT®, write your answer responses on the test and transfer these answers at the end of a test sub-section by groups. This technique improves accuracy and saves time.
  • While reading the answer responses, look for the wrong answers first, not the right ones. This is called using the process of elimination and it builds test-taker confidence and reduces test anxiety. It is easier to make a decision between fewer choices than many. Slash through the wrong answers to reveal possibly correct answer choices. If writing on the test is not allowed, use your fingers to point to incorrect answer responses to more visually isolate the correct answer response.
  • Skip and return only to the test problems that you are sure that further reflection may really improve your chance of helping you select the correct answer choice. Minimize the amount of skipped test problems. Do not review any marked answers. Those who report feeling test anxiety have a much greater likelihood of changing answer choices to wrong choices upon review.
  • Make sure to guess and never perceive guessing as a failure. Many students fail to take advantage of guessing on multiple choice tests because they feel that it won’t affect their grade much. Wrong! Strategic guessing really can improve your overall grade. On a 100 problem test, if you leave ten answers blank because you don’t know the correct answers, you have probably lowered your grade by one-half by failing to guess. Guessing odds are much better with each wrong answer eliminated.

Check out these five FREE test prep resources from the author’s Essential Study Skills curriculum:

Get the Test Prep Skills FREE Resource:

The author’s Essential Study Skills is the study skill curriculum that teaches what students need to know to succeed and thrive in schoolOften, the reason why students fail to achieve their academic potential is not because of laziness or lack of effort, but because they have never learned the basic study skills necessary for success. The forty lessons in Essential Study Skills will teach your students to “work smarter, not harder.” Students who master these skills will spend less time, and accomplish more during homework and study time. Their test study will be more productive and they will get better grades. Reading comprehension and vocabulary will improve. Their writing will make more sense and essays will be easier to plan and complete. They will memorize better and forget less. Their schoolwork will seem easier and will be much more enjoyable. Lastly, students will feel better about themselves as learners and will be more motivated to succeed. em>Essential Study Skills is the ideal curriculum for study skill, life skill, Advocacy/Advisory, Opportunity Program classes. The easy-to-follow lesson format of 1. Personal Assessment 2. Study Skill Tips and 3. Reflection is ideal for self-guided learning and practice. Teachers may post the program on class websites. Contact the publisher for affordable site licenses.

Pennington Publishing's Essential Study Skills

Essential Study Skills

Study Skills , , , , , , , , ,