5 Test-Taking Strategies for Kids

School Age

Your child has worked hard all school year to get ready for standardized testing. Now it’s your turn to help him shine by making sure he eats right and sleeps well beforehand. Our five test-taking strategies help kids boost brainpower without cracking a book!


Testing tip #1: get sleep

Sleep helps you think. Students who get enough sleep can remember things more easily and recall what they’ve learned. Don’t stay up late to cram; it’s better to get your Zs.

Rule of thumb: 6- to 13-year-olds need nine to 11 hours/day. 14- to 17-year-olds need eight to 10 hours/day.


Testing tip #2: eat breakfast

Get their test day (and every day!) started with the right fuel. It’s a tall order, but try to serve at least three of the five food groups with this meal.

  • Whole wheat waffles topped with nut butter and sliced fruit, and water
  • Scrambled eggs with salsa, whole wheat toast and low-fat milk
  • Low-fat plain yogurt with nuts or granola, a piece of fruit and water

Testing tip #3: drink water

Don't forget about water! Our brains are more than 75 percent water, so they need plenty of it to work well.

Thirsty brains can experience short-term memory loss, trouble focusing and difficulty with math problems. If the teacher allows, send your child with a water bottle to keep him energized, alert and focused.


Testing tip #4: have a snack

If your child will be going longer than four hours between meals, a nutritious snack midway will help regulate blood sugar, keeping his energy level and focus high.

Avoid simple sugars, like sugary cereals, toaster pastries, juice, cookies and candy. These foods deliver a burst of energy, but they’re followed by a crash, leaving your kid feeling tired and sluggish—not what he needs on test day.

Snack suggestions: Fruit, veggies, cheese and crackers, mini bagels and cream cheese.


Testing tip #5: get moving

You already know activity is good for your child’s body (and yours, too!), but did you know it’s also good for his brain? Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, helping your child concentrate and show off what he knows. And what's more important on test day?

Here are some ideas:

  • Walk or ride bikes with your child to school.
  • Lead some quick morning stretches, or dance to a song or two.
  • Let him jump rope, shoot hoops or do another activity while waiting for the school bus.