When it comes to tests, focus on how your child feels about taking them, rather than on how high she scores. In third grade, tests exist not only to measure knowledge and progress, but to prepare children for what lies ahead.

Because of their inexperience, third-graders are often easily thrown off during test situations. Too much noise in the classroom, for instance, or too little breakfast in the tummy, can cause an A student to pull a C. So you shouldn't get too concerned over individual test grades. That will only make your child anxious — and more likely to make careless mistakes on the next test.

Teaching the Basics
To build confidence and self-esteem, most third-grade teachers try to maximize their students' success on tests by giving lots of pre-test hints and help. That may involve hanging up signs that give definitions of key words that'll appear on an upcoming test; sending home a study guide with sample questions; or giving the children a practice test that they can take together in teams.

Teachers may also provide guidance on how to study. For example, before a big test, students may be instructed to follow these six steps:

1. Find a partner (a parent, older sibling, classmate, or friend).
2. Have that person ask you the questions on the study sheet (or make up questions based on information in the textbook).
3. Have your partner circle the questions you get wrong.
4. Go back to your textbook to find the correct answers to the questions you missed.
5. Write down the correct answers, to help yourself remember them.
6. Repeat the process, until you get every question right.

Test-Taking Hints
When it comes to taking tests, teachers tell students:

1. Read the directions carefully before you pick up your pencil. If you don't understand something, ask the teacher right away, before you attempt any answers.

2. Skim the entire test, to see what kinds of questions there are, so you can budget your time appropriately.

3. If you come to a question you can't answer (on a timed test), circle it and move ahead. If there's time at the end, go back and work on the problems you circled.

If the teacher isn't teaching these skills, you should do so at home. It will also help if you:

Minimize your interest in test scores and grades, so your child won't think that getting a good grade is more important than learning.

Encourage your child to start studying days in advance, instead of trying to cram in knowledge the night before.

Make yourself available to quiz your child before a test, and help him identify the weak links in his knowledge.

Encourage him to write down key pieces of information, so he can review and remember them more easily.

Make sure he gets a good night's sleep before the test, and eats a nutritious breakfast before going to school.

Review test results, to help your child see why he made certain mistakes, and what he could do differently the next time.