Parent's Guide to the ISAT for Grade 3

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743201797
  • Publisher: Kaplan Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.20 (d)

First Chapter

Chapter 1

THE A's, B's, C's, AND OF GOOD TEST TAKING

Understanding the ISAT Is Half the Battle

Does the mere sight of a No. 2 pencil cause your child to break into a cold, trembling sweat? Are the words multiple-choice or essay invariably followed by a thin, keening shriek or forlorn wail? If the answer to either of these questions is "yes," then it's time you faced the facts: When it comes to taking standardized tests, your child is just like everyone else.

The vast majority of Americans experience some fear and nervousness before taking a big test. It is only natural that an eight- or nine-year-old would feet anxious when faced with a test that might cause him to have to take summer school, or maybe even be held back a grade. Sure, there are a few folks out there who are perfectly calm when faced with exams, but they are att either hopelessly insane or currently making a living writing test-preparation materials.

Let your kid know that it is normal to be nervous about the unknown, but that the more he knows about the ISAT, the less nervous he will feel. All the information and all the techniques we will cover in this book will ease your child's nervousness and replace it with confidence by making that "unknown" -- in this case, the exams -- familiar and manageable. Test anxiety almost invariably leads to a lower test score, so it is important that you work to boost your child's confidence about the exam. Just understanding the basic format of the ISAT exams can be empowering, as the test changes from a scary hurdle that must be jumped to simply "a math test taken in three sessions, with 70 multiple-choice questions worth I point each interspersed with two extended-response questions worth 0-12 points."

The importance of knowing what to expect was clearly illustrated in 1999 when so many third-graders faced -- and failed -- the ISAT. This was the year Illinois introduced the test, and seeing it for the first time, 39 percent of all students scored below standards or worse in Reading, while only 17 percent made the top grade. But it was not that all those Illinois third-graders did not know how to write an essay or answer an open-response question; rather, the test format was so unfamiliar to them that they had no idea what they were supposed to write, or when they were supposed to write it. When faced with an unexpected, open-ended question, even most adults can become unsure of themselves.

Learning about question types and little details, such as knowing how many Word Analysis questions will appear on the Reading ISAT, serves a dual purpose for the tests: It provides your child with useful information, and it takes away the fear-of-the-unknown aspect of the test. This principal is the foundation of successful test preparation:

Familiarity leads to confidence.

Think of the ISAT as that haunted house on the end of your street. At first, your child only knows the horror stories about the children who went inside never to be seen again. Your job as a parent is to guide your child through the exams during the day, showing how the scary noise coming from upstairs is caused by a rusty blind, and that beyond the usual dangers associated with an old house (loose floorboards, a rickety staircase), there is nothing about the place to worry about. If you can replace the anxiety and stress your child feels about the ISAT with a feeling of confidence, you will have done him a great service.

Why Cosmas Ndeti, Former Boston Marathon Winner, Would Probably Do Well on the Grade 3 ISAT

Although Mr. Ndeti, a world-class marathon runner, probably has not had as much work with fractions as your child has recently, he is very skilled in one crucial test-taking area: pacing. Knowing that he's going to run 26 miles, Ndeti picks a nice, consistent speed at which to run, and keeps at that pace throughout the entire race. What he doesn't do, and what you should not allow your child to do, is spend too much time in any one area or run out of gas before the race is over.

Since there are a variety of question types on this exams, how much time your child should spend per question will be covered in greater detail in the Math and Reading chapters. However, the main idea you must pass on to your child now is never to spend too much time on any one question. At a certain point, taking too much time becomes as harmful as taking too little: frustration mounts, boredom and fatigue set in. Perseverance is a noble trait, but on a standardized test, spending half the time answering one multiple-choice question is tantamount to standardized-test suicide. Your child should stay focused on the task at hand and never get too flustered by any one question.

One or two small breaks during each test is fine if your child feels her brain is getting strained. Tell her to put the pencil down, stretch out her hands and arms, take some deep breaths, and then pick up the pencil and finish the test. If your child comes to a question she does not understand, tell her to think of this as a guideline:

Spend up to three minutes trying to figure out the question; then, using the techniques taught in this book, take an educated guess and move on.

The ISAT does not require perfection. There are only two real scores: pass or fail. To pass, students need to get about two-thirds of the questions right, so it is never worth their while to spend 50 minutes on one question that's stumping them, only to be So mentally fatigued that they do poorly on the rest of the exam. Certainly, you don't want to encourage your child to do less than her best, but she must realize that no one question is so important that it is worth getting bogged down on and upset over. There are always some questions that just seem baffling. Throughout the rest of this book, we'll show you how to show your kid how to make good guesses, keep her cool, and stay on pace when faced with a stumper.

Copyright © 2000 by Anaxos, Inc.

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