Ready for the Test: Family Playbook

This spring, your child will take state tests in English and math that serve as one measure of how prepared he or she is for the next grade. Learning Heroes is here to share a few great tips for how you and your child can be confident and ready.

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  1. Download PDF
    See For Yourself

    Look over PARCC, Smarter Balanced, or LEAP practice test questions to see firsthand what’s expected of your child.

    You may want to walk through a few test questions with your child to help familiarize him or her with the test format and features, and answer any questions he or she might have. The PARCC test is delivered in CO, DC, IL, MD, NJ, NM, and RI. The Smarter Balanced test is delivered in CA, CT, DE, HI, ID, MI, MT, NV, NH, ND, OR, SD, VT, WA, and WV. The LEAP test is delivered in LA. A number of states have chosen to administer their own distinct test.  For more information and practice tests for those states, please speak with your child's teacher or principal.

  2. Know the Basics

    Know when your child will take each subject, and how the test will be given.

    By knowing basic facts — like when your child will take each part of the test and how the test will be given — you will be able to provide answers when he or she has questions. Read About the PARCC Test or About the Smarter Balanced Test for more information, or talk to your child’s principal and teachers.

  3. Connect the Dots With Your Child

    Help your child understand that the tests match what he or she has been learning in the classroom all year long.

    Talk to your child about what he or she can expect, when the test will be taken, and what it will be like. Assure your child that this test is focused on critical thinking, writing, and problem solving instead of memorizing a set of facts.

    Each year there are a set of learning goals for your child in English, writing and math, and the GreatKids State Test Guide for Parents has a great explanation for parents. Reinforce to your child that the test is just one way to see how he or she is doing in school, in addition to report cards and class work. This can help minimize your child’s stress and anxiety going into the test.

  4. Lower the Stakes

    It’s important for your child to learn how to take tests because they are a part of life.

    Test anxiety (for parents and kids) is real. This test is about helping the school and the teachers help your child. It does not count toward your child's report card grade, and is just one way to see how he or she is doing in school.

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Sample Questions

The test questions range from traditional multiple choice to ones that require your child to use critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. In math, your child will be asked to explain how he or she came to a solution. In English, your child will be asked to analyze grade-level reading passages and write grade-appropriate responses.

Sample Math Question

(5th Grade PARCC practice test)

A community center has two swimming pools. The water level of each pool is measured at 8:00 pm each night. The two measurements from Saturday night are shown.

  • The water level in the first pool is 3 5/12 feet deep.
  • The water level in the second pool is 4 3/8 feet deep.

What is the difference in depth, in feet, between the water levels of the two pools? Enter your answer in the box.

Answer: 23/24 feet

Sample English Language Arts Question

(5th grade Smarter Balanced practice test)

The student is asked to read a passage about a boy who is traveling by ship with his family from Italy to settle in America. The student is asked: Which of these inferences about Enzio is supported in the text?

  1. Enzio resented having to move to America.
  2. Enzio felt confident about moving to America.
  3. Enzio cared more about fishing than moving to America.
  4. Enzio felt a sense of loss thinking about his move to America.
Answer: D

To See A Complete Test For Your Child’s Grade, Go To:

Practice PARCC Test ›

(For students in CO, DC, IL, MD, NJ, NM, and RI)

Practice Smarter Balanced test ›

(For students in CA, CT, DE, HI, ID, MI, MT, NV, NH, ND, OR, SD, VT, WA, and WV)

A number of states have chosen to administer their own distinct test. For more information and practice tests, please speak with your child's teacher or principal.

What is Expected of Your Child at Each Grade Level

The GreatKids State Test Guide for Parents explains the skills and content your child will learn at each grade level in English and Math. You can also take a “deeper dive” for more information about how you can help your child at home. You can also review writing samples here.

View More »
Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling offers an educator’s perspective on the state tests.

Learning Tools

Learning Tools are helpful resources developed by our partners to support your child’s learning in English language arts and math at home. Search by grade level, subject or specific type of resource.

Browse Our Tools »