Saturday, August 24, 2013

How to Pass the ELA and Math State Tests

How to Pass the ELA and Math State Tests

Quick Article and Quick Tips -- By Frances Kweller, Founder of Kweller Prep  

Fewer than 1/3 of the students passed the NYS ElA and Math state tests. However over 90% of the students I trained at Kweller Prep scored a 4 or higher, among the highest levels in the entire state.


Kweller Prep is headquartered in Forest Hills Queens. Our ELA and Math programs, as demonstrated, are wonderful. But for those of you who can’t make it, here are my tips on how we got so many kids—from all different levels and backgrounds—to excel on the ELA and math state exams this year.

READ READ READ. You have to get your child in “reading mode” at least one to two grades levels above his or her own. At Kweller Prep, we used 5th and 6th grade reading material to teach our 3rd and 4th graders. The tougher the better. Kids are like sponges at this age- they absorb everything. There is plenty of advanced reading material available at higher levels—use it!  Don’t be afraid of going three reading levels higher to challenge your child. You would be amazed at how hard the reading material we used to prep kids for this year’s ELA was. They all excelled—and enjoyed the course!

Play Math Games! There are so many fantastic math Olympiad questions online. Get your child to do the hardest around! At Kweller Prep, we found the kids enjoyed the challenge of “teaming-up” to answer math game problems. The challenging the better.

Make prepping for the ELA and Math state tests fun! Give your  child incentives or prizes every time he or she gets questions right. At Kweller Prep, we rented an  ice cream truck once most kids were at an 80% accuracy or higher. We allocated towards small prizes that made a big difference—everything from high bouncing balls to Harvard T-shirts for kids. This way, students feel “rewarded” for all their hard work

Remember handwriting? Unfortunately, in school, students no longer seem to have the pressures of good penmanship or writing in legible script. At Kweller Prep, we have 7th and 8th grade students 2nd grade handwriting books to practice their print. You can easily look up handwriting paper if you are on a budget as well. We were “handwriting” obsessed, and tried to fix years of illegible text in our 2 month ELA Math Prep course—and guess what? It worked. By teaching kids to write slower, and really concentrate on the clarity of each letter, we produced better (hand) writers.

Teach them SAT words! I cannot stress how kids in grades 3 to 8 are like sponges. The ELA and Math tests are supposedly all about “college readiness,” right? Well what test is more college-ready than the SAT? I suggest you invest in the direct hits books of core SAT vocabulary. It is well worth the investment.

Check out other States. Ok so NY used the new ELA and Math state tests as of this year, but how about the other 28 states that started implementing the core curriculum years ago? All their stuff is online! Use it! Print it! At Kweller Prep, we printed exams from almost every other state to challenge our kids in the course. It worked! BTW, Georgia and Texas were my favorites!  

Challenge them! Make no mistake, I do not support the ELA and Math State Exams, but I do believe in challenging kids to excel beyond their grade levels. Go ahead! Buy your 3rd grader the 5th grade English & Math workbook. You will be surprised at how interested he or she will be in learning the “hard-stuff.”

Send your kids to Kweller Prep! I mean, I sincerely hope you do, but if not, then feel free to reach out to us anyway with questions! 1(800) 631-1757 or email  


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