Best Methods for STAAR Test Practice
Go to State Tests and Common Core – Choose any state – work with math and reading (ELA – English Language Arts) questions at your child’s grade level + one level below and above grade level (if possible). You need only work with the multiple choice questions.
The STAAR Specific Resources on this page from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will be of help, as well.
As parents, there are a few important tips that you can pass on to your child as they are studying and preparing to take the STAAR test.
- Do as many practice questions as you can – the more comfortable you are with the material, the more confident you will feel! By engaging with as many practice questions as possible, you’re essentially providing yourself a simulated experience of the test. Each question you attempt increases your familiarity with the content and the format of the test. This, in turn, bolsters your confidence as you’re better prepared to handle similar questions in the actual test, making the experience less daunting.
- Study in 25 – 30-minute chunks, then take a break. Your practicing is 100% effective at first and 20% effective after 30 minutes. By taking a break, you’ll go back to 100% effective when you start again. This approach is based on the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests that our brains can only maintain peak focus for around 25-30 minutes before needing a break. After this period, your ability to absorb new information diminishes. Taking short breaks allows your brain to rest, reset, and be ready to learn new information effectively once you return.
- There’s no penalty for guessing, so always make your best guess. Since STAAR tests don’t penalize for incorrect answers, it’s advantageous to guess if you’re unsure, rather than leaving questions blank. A guess, even if it’s uncertain, has a chance of being correct, while an unanswered question guarantees no points.
- To improve your odds of guessing right, ALWAYS eliminate answer choices that you feel are wrong before you guess. This strategy is known as the process of elimination. By striking out options that you’re certain are incorrect, you increase your odds of selecting the correct answer from the remaining choices. This approach can prove particularly helpful in multiple-choice questions where you’re unsure of the right answer.
- Watch out for “distractors” – answers that seem obvious but are incorrect. Distractors are incorrect answers that may appear plausible at first glance. They’re designed to test your understanding of the subject matter. Carefully analyzing each option and reasoning through your choices can help you identify and avoid these distractors.
- Read the instructions and the full question before answering. If there are charts or pictures that go with a question; look them over – they are there for a reason. Every element of the question, including instructions, diagrams, and charts, contributes to your understanding of what’s being asked. Failing to read or comprehend these elements can lead to misunderstandings and incorrect answers. They provide context and clues that can help you respond effectively.
- Don’t lose focus or get distracted by those around you. During the test, maintaining focus is crucial. External distractions, such as noises or the actions of others, can disrupt your concentration. By practicing mindfulness and maintaining a calm demeanor, you can keep your attention solely on the test.
- Manage your time – don’t rush, but don’t get stuck on one question either. Time management is a critical skill during tests. Spending too much time on a single question can cause you to rush through the remaining questions. Conversely, rushing can lead to careless mistakes. Strive for a balanced approach: take sufficient time to understand each question, but move on if you find yourself stuck for too long.
- If you feel anxious, use breathing techniques and positive self-talk to calm yourself. Reframe your anxiety as a positive. Tell yourself that you’re excited to take the test; it matters to you. According to Harvard psychologist, Jeremy Jamieson, “Recent research suggests that stress doesn’t hurt performance on tests and can even help performance. People who feel anxious during a test might actually do better. If you find yourself feeling anxious, simply remind yourself that your stress could help you do well.”Test anxiety can hinder performance, but certain techniques can help manage it. Deep breathing exercises can help slow your heart rate and clear your mind. Positive self-talk and reframing anxiety as excitement or eagerness to engage with the test can also alleviate stress.
Resources to Help Your Child Prepare for the STAAR test:
Along with Testing Mom, here are additional resources that can be beneficial for your child’s preparation for the Texas State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test:
- Texas Education Agency (TEA): The official TEA website provides a wealth of information about the STAAR test, including released test questions from previous years, which can be a valuable practice tool. Website: TEA STAAR Resources
- Khan Academy: While not directly linked to the STAAR test, Khan Academy offers comprehensive learning resources in subjects like mathematics, reading, and science that align with the STAAR test objectives. Website: Khan Academy
- IXL Learning: This platform offers Texas-specific practice resources that are aligned with the state curriculum standards. This can be a good place for your child to practice the skills they’ll need for the STAAR test.Website: IXL Texas Learning
- TestPrep-Online: This resource offers comprehensive STAAR practice packs for various grade levels, which include practice tests and detailed explanations. Website: TestPrep-Online
- Mometrix Test Preparation: This platform offers a collection of STAAR practice test questions that are designed to measure the skills and knowledge students need to be successful on the STAAR exams. Website: Mometrix Test Preparation
- Teachers Pay Teachers: This website provides a variety of STAAR-specific resources created by teachers, including study guides and practice questions.Website: Teachers Pay Teachers – STAAR Resources
- Education Galaxy: This online platform provides STAAR practice tests and resources aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for various grade levels. Website: Education Galaxy
Remember that consistent practice and understanding of the test format are key to success. Encourage your child to practice regularly and ensure they have a quiet, comfortable study space.
As of 2021, here are the majors changes that have occurred to the STAAR test:
- Online Testing: The Texas Education Agency (TEA) had been planning a move towards online testing. This transition was hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in a significant increase in online learning and testing across the state.
- Reading and Math Assessments: There were some changes to reading and mathematics assessments to align the STAAR more closely with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
- Adaptive Testing: The TEA was also exploring the use of adaptive testing, where the difficulty of questions would adjust based on a student’s performance. However, it’s unclear if this was fully implemented by 2021.
- Reduction in Standardized Testing: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education granted a waiver to Texas and other states to cancel standardized testing for the 2019-2020 school year. However, the STAAR test resumed in the 2020-2021 school year.