Best strategies for dealing with testing

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Best strategies for dealing with testing

If your child's anxious about standardized testing, one of the first things to do is to desensitize the test for them. Many students think they're supposed to know everything on a standardized test, and especially perfectionists have a really hard time with that. Standardized tests have questions that students are not supposed to know. It's a power test; no one's supposed to get a perfect score. The idea of the test is to go in, do the best job you can, answering those questions you know how to be able to do, and remaining in kind of a calm, focused manner. You can help that by making sure your child's had plenty of sleep before the test, that they have had a good breakfast and that they have relaxed activities to do in the evening before. That said, when you have the results of the test, it's time to look and see. Is the anxiety for a real reason? Is there content that your child doesn't know? Are they struggling at school in other ways? In the meantime, the best thing to do is to desensitize the test, support them in being in a calm, focused manner before the test, and then to make it your job to look to see if there are any learning problems that might be causing the anxiety.

Watch Video: Best strategies for dealing with testing by Carolyn McWilliams, MA, ...


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Carolyn McWilliams, MA

Educational Specialist

Carolyn is currently an educational therapist and educational consultant helping students, parents, and schools meet the challenges of gifted students with learning challenges through her offices in Santa Monica, California. Carolyn also does general consulting with schools on topics from curriculum development to teaching study skills to interpretation of student test scores.

Carolyn began her educational career in Santa Barbara, California, where she received her B.A. and M.A. and became a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Administration with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction. She served as a supervisor of student teachers and taught courses across the educational curriculum during her eight years at UCSB.

After completing her studies, Carolyn moved to Los Angeles where she served as the head of Adat Ari El Day School in Valley Village and as a consultant on issues of learning and instruction to Jewish day schools across the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Spectrum, as well as to elementary and secondary schools of all types. During this time she also served on the faculty of California State University at Northridge.

The parent of three highly gifted daughters of her own (one with learning challenges), throughout her career, Carolyn has designed innovative strategies, as well as unique programs to help gifted students achieve life success. She established the Johns Hopkins Center for Academically Talented Youth (CTY) Summer Commuter Program held at the University of California Los Angeles and served as parent liaison for the CTY to the press and larger community. She was the founder and head of Bridges Academy, which serves a population of twice-exceptional students in grades 6-12, from 1994-2003 (

Carolyn has been a classroom teacher in both Goleta Union and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. She was LAUSD Teacher of the Year, was one of five finalists for California Teacher of the Year, and was given an Outstanding Educator Award by the Los Angeles Times. She has published curriculum and articles in the areas of special education, social studies, English, educational computing, ESL, multi-cultural education, study skills, and classroom organization. She regularly presents at conferences and schools on topics related to curriculum, instruction, classroom organization, gifted students, and special needs populations. 

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