Test Taking Tips & Strategies

As a parent/guardian, what do I need to know about the PSSA exams?

  • The English & Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics PSSA exams are administered to students in grades 3-8. One week is dedicated to ELA and another week is dedicated to mathematics.
  • Students in grade 4 also take a Science PSSA.
  • Although schools take the test scores seriously, classroom teachers are looking for individual growth in students from year to year.

How do I help my child prepare for the exam?

  • Establish an appropriate bedtime with your child.
  • Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast each morning. A breakfast that includes protein is recommended as opposed to a sugary breakfast.
  • Try to make sure your child is at school, prepared, and on time for each day of testing.
  • Review test taking tips with your child.
  • Discuss the importance of the tests.
  • Reiterate with your child to relax during the exam and put forth their best effort.

What are some test taking strategies that I can go over with my child?

  • Read and follow all directions and questions carefully.
  • Before responding, be sure to look at all of the answer choices.
  • Eliminate answers that don't make sense.
  • For questions you're not sure about reread the question and try to find the best answer.
  • Go back and make sure you've answered all of the questions.
  • For ELA questions, remember to go back into the text to verify your answers.
  • Use your scratch paper to your advantage. Work out math problems on your scrap paper first. Create organizers before responding to open-ended questions.

How can my child stay calm during testing? Have them follow the tips listed below.

  • You've been preparing all year for these exams, be confident and positive.
  • Listen to all directions given by the teacher and ask questions about anything that is unclear.
  • Give yourself mental breaks when you need them. Put your pencil down, take a few deep breaths, roll your neck, give yourself some positive self-talk.
  • Think of the tests like several small jobs instead of one large one.
  • If permitted by your child's teacher, suck on a mint or other piece of hard candy to stimulate your brain.