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Ask the Teacher

Timed math facts, test success, reading stamina, standardized testing


April 2014

>Why do teachers insist on kids doing timed tests on math facts? The pressure is more than my daughter can handle.

The research is mixed on whether timed math fact quizzes are recommended or even valuable. Many students do experience anxiety and frustration when trying to beat the clock.

Rather than console your daughter by telling her these quizzes don't matter, focus her attention on the real goal: quick recall of those facts. When a student has mastered these facts, she has laid a solid foundation for more challenging and advanced math skills. She will move into double- and triple-digit multiplication, long division and fraction work with much greater confidence if those facts are second nature to her. Without that solid foundation of basic math facts, she may understand the more advanced concept, but she will be frustrated with the time it takes her to complete problems. She will likely be disheartened that even following all of the correct steps results in an incorrect answer because of an error with a basic fact. That may lead her to think she is not a strong math student. Knowing basic math facts well can put her on the path to being a successful math student.

My daughter works hard and does well in school except when it comes to tests. She just doesn't seem to test well. What can I do to help her?

Test success comes from preparing early and preparing well. Help your daughter carefully reflect on when she starts studying for a test and what she does specifically to prepare.

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