FCAT test Preparation

FCAT Preparation

When you work hard towards accomplishing a task, your chances of success increase. It is surely not easy to work towards a goal unless you are self-motivated; one cannot achieve one’s full potential if he is coaxed by others to perform. However, understanding why preparation is required and how to go about it is important to get motivated to work hard.

Why is Preparation Important and How does it Help

Every student in Florida is familiar with the FCAT and why it is imperative to clear the tests at different stages of school education.

    1. For promotion from Grade 3 to Grade 4, one has to clear the Reading test. Besides, Reading and Mathematics tests of Grade 10 have to be cleared to fulfill Florida’s graduation requirements. If you take the exam lightly and fail to comprehend its impact on your future, the chances of you successfully completing your education will be very slim.
    1. Though one can submit concordant scores in SAT or ACT for FCAT Grade 10 Reading and Mathematics tests, it might alarm the concerned authorities since it comes with an indication of three failed attempts at the FCAT.
    1. It is likely that even though you are well aware of the importance of the exam, you tend to take it lightly as it is an annual test and you are comfortable with taking the exam. Moreover, you might think that performance in the test is crucial in Grades 3 and 10 only. Keep in mind that this exam at different grade levels are equally important and you need to perform well in all of them.
  1. The developmental scale scores are based on how you have developed through education and improved over the years. Hence, your previous performances do have an impact on these scores. It is one of the most reliable indicators of your achievements in education and the concerned authorities give high importance to it.

Training yourself for taking the test shall help you deliver your best and obtain remarkable results. When you work hard towards accomplishing certain goals, your energies get channelized in the correct direction. You start prioritizing and become serious towards your goals, even if you do not realize it. Such efforts make you more focused and hence you prepare better.

Role of Parents in Preparation for FCAT

Since FCAT is administered to students from Grade 3 through 10, you will have to take the tests at various stages of your development. Consequently, you shall employ different methods and sources of preparation depending on your maturity level, your independence in studying, your exam requirements etc. In your initial years of education, you are likely to be helped by your parents, who shall guide you at every step. By and by you shall become more independent and the responsibility of scoring high in the test will lie completely on your shoulders. This is likely to happen when you are in Grade 6 and onwards. Active participation in the initial years of schooling shall build the foundation of independent preparation in later years. Students should thus be made to participate in every step of preparation.

As one starts taking the responsibility of studying solely on his own, he either becomes more responsible or becomes careless and non-serious. The latter situation is dangerous for his future and it shall surely be difficult to bring him around. It is up to parents to keep a check on their children and guide them where they are erring. Thus, parents should not shirk their responsibilities at any stage of their child’s education. Their role in the performance of their children is vital.

They should seek the opinions of the teachers from time to time to understand the weaknesses and strengths of their children. Liaison with other parents also helps in gaining awareness about how they are helping their children. It is important to maintain a harmonious atmosphere at home that is conducive to studying. The child should be encouraged to perform well without being pressurized. Comparisons with peers and siblings should be avoided. The child’s problems should be shared by listening to his needs or problems. Do not expect your child to improve in one day  because education is a long drawn process and it might take time for the child to catch up with other students.

How to Prepare for FCAT

In order to study for the exam, you need to first check which exams you are to take according to your grade. Besides, the testing items administered in each grade differ for the same subject test. For instance, the short and extended response performance tasks are not administered in the Mathematics test in Grades 6, 7 and 9. Understanding the requirements of the exam is thus primary.

Reading Test: This test is administered in all grades from 3 to 10. The performance tasks are administered in Grades 4, 8 and 10 only, whereas the multiple-choice items are administered in all grades. In lower grades information passages are given lesser importance whereas literary passages are given more emphasis. As you go to higher grades, informational passages gain importance over literary passages. The best means of preparation for the reading tasks is specific reading comprehension passages. Besides, you must learn how to improve your comprehension of passages you come across in your school education as well. Learn how to make inferences from every type of reading material you come across. Parents should try not to spoon-feed their children for reading comprehension questions. A child does not need the help of guides in such questions in any grade. If he fails to read properly or comprehend any part of the passage, he can be given guidelines rather than being told the answers directly.

Writing Test: The Writing test is administered in Grades 4, 8 and 10. The essay has to be written within 45 minutes. This can be challenging for Grade 4 students who have to get accustomed to time constraints while being creative. The essay has to be well organized, focused on the topic, supported by examples and facts and based on conventions of writing. It is ideal to familiarize the student with the kinds of essays he is expected to write before making him practice. Show samples of both well written and badly written essays for him to comprehend the difference. The next stage of actually practicing writing is crucial and a child needs constant checks on what he is producing. Students of higher grades can approach their teachers to get their writings reviewed. Their inputs should be taken into consideration and improvement should be evaluated. Besides content, care should be taken to develop a well structured essay.

Science Test: This test is administered in Grades 5, 8 and 11 only. Multiple-choice items, performance tasks and gridded response items are administered in all but Grade 5, in which the gridded response items are not administered. The Science test is different from the Reading and Writing tests since content knowledge is tested here whereas there is no definite content for the Reading and Writing tests. You cannot hope to do well in the performance tasks without clarity of conceptual knowledge. For Grade 5, students can rely on their school teachers and parents for preparation. However, they might need some external help of extra study books, coaching institutes, private coaching etc. for preparation. This is especially true for below average students. Two-three months of hard work before the exam should fetch you good results.

Mathematics Test: This test is administered from Grade 3 to 10. Multiple choice items are administered in all grades, gridded response items are administered in all grades above Grade 5 and performance tasks are administered in Grades 5, 8 and 10 only. The only key to scoring well in Mathematics test is practice. It is futile to look for short cuts for preparation. Practicing questions of all types makes you improve your speed at thinking as well as penning down solutions. Calculations become quicker and you arrive at the results rapidly. Parents need to ensure that their children do not cut corners and actually practice questions. Though only multiple-choice items are administered in Grades 3 and 4, practice is required in these grades as well.

Gearing up for FCAT

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

It is important to realize that you can improve your scores in any grade. Do not underestimate your potential. Your score in any grade should not be taken as a true estimate of your abilities. Do not accept your weaknesses for life, instead focus on your shortcomings so that they do not hinder your progress in future grades. This important aspect of preparation impacts your performance in a big way. In fact, the whole purpose of FCAT at every grade level is to see how a child is improving and how effective the education system is in developing students into well-educated responsible citizens.