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Most Common Test-Taking Mistakes Very Young Children Make: Part Five

Most Common Test-Taking Mistakes Very Young Children Make: Part Five

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - February 17th, 2016

Today we finish up our series on the most common mistakes kids make in test-taking by centering in on understanding best practices in test taking.

This series addresses helping very young children, ages 4-7, overcome and avoid these common mistakes. Yesterday, we discussed mechanical issuesWe will end this series with the best part–helping your child understand how to take a test. These are life-skills that will make a difference in how he or she approaches any test.  And you might even learn a few tips you never knew before, too!

 Most Common Mistakes Kids Make Five

Here are 5 common mistakes and solutions in this situation–

Not Understanding How to Take a Test

  • Choosing the Most Obvious Answer – This is a real “rookie” mistake that young kids often make.
  • Solution: 1) When you walk through practice questions with your child, explain to them that the person writing the test is always trying to “trick” kids by putting answers up that seem right at first, but really aren’t when you study them more.  Kids hate to be “tricked,” so if you alert him to the possibility, he is more likely to watch for it.  2) Also, when doing practice questions with your child at first, have him consider every answer choice one by one.  Ask him to explain to you why the right one is correct and why the others are wrong.  This will help him get used to going through each individual answer before making his choice.  3) If your child is taking a test where she must point to answers, teach her to sit on her hands before she chooses.  That way, she won’t rush to choose an answer before she thinks about it.


  • Not First Eliminating Answers That Are Clearly Wrong – This is a useful technique that many young kids don’t know about yet, but we experienced test takers do it as a matter of course.
  • Solution: When going through a new type of question with your child, show him how to immediately eliminate answers that are absolutely, definitely wrong.  At first, talk him through how you would do it.  Then, ask your child to show you how he would do it.  Show your child that after you eliminate answers that are clearly wrong, he only needs to focus on the one or two leftover possibilities when he answers the question.  It makes test taking easier!


  • Not Answering All the Questions – For most tests that young children take, there is no “extra” penalty for answering a question wrong. You get zero credit if you skip it; you get zero credit if you miss it.  It is always worth answering the question, even when you aren’t sure. 
  • Solution: 1) If you have a young child who is answering questions verbally or by pointing, teach her to always give her best answer (she will not be able to skip a question and come back in this instance).  2) For a child who is taking a pencil and paper test, teach her to eliminate wrong answers first, and then to make her best guess.  She can check the question lightly and go back to it later if there is time.  3) If your child is taking a test online, she may not be able to go back and revisit questions later.  Instruct her to make her best guess with each question and then to move on. 


  • Not Moving On When You Get Stuck – Young test takers will get stuck on a hard question and fail to move on, losing valuable time for upcoming questions that they can answer more easily.
  • Solution: 1) Teach your child that if he is stuck on a question for a minute or two, make his very best guess, check it lightly to the side (if it is pencil and paper) and then physically move on.  You can always go back to it later if there is time.  2) Not only should your child physically move on, he must mentally move on.  Some kids will let a hard question early in a test upset them and affect their performance moving forward.  Tell your child, “There are always ‘stumpers’ in a test that give everyone trouble.  Don’t worry about them.  You can always come back to them later.  Every question on the test is worth the same, so be sure you answer everything that you do know before going back to work on those ‘stumpers.’” 


  • Not checking answers if there is time at the end – Many young test takers will make the mistake of turning their test in early because they are so relieved to have it done! That is a mistake.  
  •  Solution: 1) Teach your child to use all the time he has to take the test.  If he finishes early, tell him to go back and check his answers.  That doesn’t mean retaking the test.  He can just go back and check the questions he wasn’t sure about (it helps to lightly check those with a pencil along the way, or jot the numbers down on scratch paper if that is possible).  2) And, if he finishes significantly sooner than everyone else, and there is a lot of time left to take the test, go back and review everything.  Let your child know that finishing a test very quickly is not going to be rewarded and could mean that he rushed through the test and missed several answers.

I hope this series has given you insight and help for making your child’s test-taking experiences be the best ones possible for success every time. Be sure and share this series with other moms and dads–it will certainly be a benefit to their kids, too!


Missed the first part of the series?  

Most Common Test-Taking Mistakes Very Young Children Make: Part One

Most Common Test-Taking Mistakes Very Young Children Make: Part Two

Most Common Test-Taking Mistakes Very Young Children Make: Part Three

Most Common Test-Taking Mistakes Very Young Children Make: Part Four

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