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Reading Strategies, Tests, Oh My!

School is back in session, our routine is getting into a rhythm and then bam! There it is, a test date is approaching or, more out of the norm, the ACT, PSAT or SAT is here. Try practicing a pause if your initial reaction is anxiety, stress or fear for both you and your teen. Remember that you both have more control, tools to overcome academic fear plus the skills and knowledge from all the past years of your teens’ schooling to move through the challenge, not away. Focusing on these will help your teen to avoid a trap that can hijack their test taking abilities. Read further for steps that you and your teen can continue doing to aid and improve ideas around test performance.

As a parent, the most easily manageable components to provide are a certain mindset and environment that is conducive for a healthy body and mind to learn.  These factors enhance your teen to effortlessly go into a test ready and self-assured. 

  1. Environment:

Evaluate if there are routines in place at your home that ensure your teen receives the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Readjust if need be so the majority of nights they are getting the sleep needed to develop healthy brain activity. Let them rest after a school day and figure out a balance between studying and relaxing. 

A healthy mind starts as well with healthy habits that include enough hydration and eating clean nutritious meals to bolster optimal body function. And finally, for your benefit, practice giving your teen simple directions to follow so they can understand the correlation between real life and test taking directions. This easy tactic can support the way your teen reads or answers test questions and prompts!

  1. Mindset: 

Maintain a positive attitude and mindset towards the way you and your teen think about school, tests, and reading. They look to you for guidance and mimic your belief systems. Encourage reading every day, even if it is just a genre they like. Exposure to reading builds vocabulary organically. This can increase confidence and natural ease around reading, tests and school for your teen in order for them to not bat an eye when it comes to test-taking.

From your teen’s control, let’s all recognize that they have, can and will benefit greatly from reading strategies!

The top five strategies that anyone, at any age, for any subject can do are:

  1. Activate or think of prior knowledge of the topic before diving into the reading material.
  2. Use context clues if the passage is difficult to understand. (Use what you know if you do not know some words.)
  3. Look for and be mindful of keywords that seem important or that will show up again.
  4. Predict your answer to the question first and match the best answer to your prediction.
  5. Re-read or re-write notes in a different color or fun way to remember.

Finally, of course practice makes perfect. Encourage your teen to familiarize themselves with the word usage or language asked in questions for standardized tests and subject course tests. Each test has its own unique framework, voice and pattern. It only takes a small chunk of time and a plan to practice test-taking strategies. Invest in external study material or lean into your support network. Our coaches provide a systematic approach to test taking, so that your student will be ready to conquer standardized tests. 

Through preparation, your student will put his best foot forward. Trial and error exposure will minimize discomfort. We hope this will construct a fresh perspective towards test taking for both you and your teen to approach tests willingly and happily! 

Evan Weinberger


Staying Ahead of the Game offers unique academic coaching & tutoring services to help good students achieve greatness.

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