Test Prep Blog Post: Don’t Get a D in Test Prep: Easy Tips to Avoid Low Test Scores

How can you raise your child’s test scores? It goes beyond academic training. Learn how to avoid 5 environmental factors that could lead to lower test scores.

Education isn’t all about test scores, but they do matter. Great test scores can set your child up for accelerated classes, enrichment opportunities, and college admissions. While poor test scores can be counteracted by other factors, it’s an uphill climb.

There are a number of factors that can negatively influence your child’s test scores–some of which we have more control over than others. Here are 5 Ds that can drop your child’s test scores:


Focus is important when it comes to preparing for and taking tests. When a student becomes distracted, it becomes harder for them to engage their critical thinking skills.

Try to minimize any distractions leading up to and during the test. Msure your child wears basic, comfortable clothes with several layers so he or she can adjust to the temperature of the testing room. Talk to your child about focusing only on the test rather than friends and classmates, and practice how to act when faced with distracting behaviors. Keep a calm atmosphere at home in the days leading up to the test; do not talk constantly about the test to avoid any anxiety or distractions.


You’ve heard it before: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is true, especially on a high-stress day of test taking. Before a major test, make sure your child has a balanced breakfast and, even more importantly, remains hydrated. A lack of water can lead to lethargy, distraction, and an inability to focus. Simple water can go a long way towards giving your child the energy they need to be successful on testing day (and is much more effective than sugary alternatives).


What your child does in their free time out of school is just as important as what happens in school. Make sure downtime is still engaging; it doesn’t have to be a practice workbook, but making sure your child is reading, creating, or problem-solving during free time will help with test scores.

Students that watch lots of TV or play mindless video games in their free time not only lack critical thinking and problem-solving skills, but also struggle with focusing on something other than a screen for any length of time. Start small by reducing screen time by 10-15 minutes each day, and work towards eliminating it for a few days each week and keeping it to a minimum on the other days.
You can use this freed up time to help your child practice critical thinking skills. A great starting point is providing them with puzzle games, like our abstract and spatial reasoning.


Disasters are unexpected events that can affect your child’s mental state during a test. Unfortunately, these can’t be prepared for. Car accidents, arguments, and anything else that disrupts the normal routine fall into this category.

Although events like this cannot be avoided, you can take steps to prevent or avoid major drama or arguments at home. Even if arguments are between spouses or other siblings, loud voices and unrest can take a toll on your child’s mental state; try to keep things calm and predictable to decrease anxiety.


BE ON TIME! There’s not much more nerve-wracking than arriving at a testing site late because you got lost.

Check to see what time the test begins and allow ample extra time for traffic or delays. If the test is at an unfamiliar location, practice driving to the location beforehand to make sure you don’t get lost and can anticipate any heavily trafficked times. Arriving to the test with plenty of time to get situated will set your child up for success.

Test prep goes beyond academics

So much of successful testing comes from environmental factors. By paying attention to these five Ds – Distractions, Diet, Downtime, Disasters, and Delays – you’re able to give your child the best possible chance to succeed.

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