Standardized Testing 101: What Parents of Young Students Should Expect

Standardized testing is incorporated into a younger student’s education for a variety of reasons, including state requirements and helping teachers gauge progress. If you’re the parent of a young child, keep an eye out for parent notifications about your school’s specific tests, and proactively ask your child’s teacher for details. Parents of young students should expect a few things from standardized testing periods, including a change in your student's schedule, a shift in classroom regulations, and an impact on students’ assigned homework.

It is important to be prepared and to understand that there are certain things you can anticipate from standardized testing at the elementary school age. Here is what parents of young students should expect when it comes to standardized testing:

1. Know that standardized testing can prompt a change in your student’s schedule

Standardized testing can last from several days to multiple weeks, depending on the type of exam and how your child’s school has decided to administer it. This means that most of your student’s regular classes may be suspended. If he or she usually switches classrooms for different subjects throughout the day, he or she may instead stay in just one or two rooms. Keep an eye out for teacher communication that will tell you what will be different about the week, and go over any questions your child might have. The bulk of testing may happen in the morning or early afternoon, with a regular class or educational game at the end of the day. Be sure to know when testing will be finished, and what happens if your child needs to miss and make up an exam. Generally, there’s a day or two allotted for this purpose at the end of the testing period.

[RELATED: How to Help Your Elementary School Student Cope with Test Anxiety]

2. Inquire about classroom regulations during standardized testing periods

Classroom rules are likely to shift during testing week. Talk with your student about what will and won’t change. For example, discuss rules about talking to classmates, asking teachers questions, getting out of his or her seat, and asking to go to the bathroom. Discuss the different kind of attention needed for testing blocks, as well as behavior that will help your child and his or her fellow classmates have a successful experience.

3. Understand how standardized testing affects homework

Fewer classes means less homework (usually)! During testing week, many teachers lighten the homework load or give no homework at all, which is a great break for your student—both mentally and physically. Anticipate a possible change in your child’s mood; he or she may come home more energized or more tired from a day of testing. Encourage your child to:

  • Stretch his or her legs

  • Play outside

  • Do a project

  • Read a book

  • Play a game.

Don’t forget to encourage early bedtimes as well, so your student will be well-rested for the next day.

[RELATED: How Parents Can Help with Elementary Homework Challenges]

4. Research when you will receive standardized test scores

Depending on the type of exam, scores might come out in the next month or even in the next academic year. Be sure to know when you can expect them, and how they will (or won’t) affect your child. When the scores do come out, discuss with both your student’s teacher and your student what the numbers mean, and what you and your child can take away from them.

In addition to the above tips, don’t forget to have a balanced breakfast ready for your student, and make sure he or she has all of the supplies needed for testing week. Talk about the seriousness of the test, and if he or she is nervous, talk about the test’s function in the grand scheme of things. Should you have any questions, contact your child’s teacher or principal, who would be happy to discuss requirements with you before testing week.

[RELATED: SSAT Prep Tips for Your Child]


Any topics you want to know more about? Let us know! The Varsity Tutors Blog editors love hearing your feedback and opinions. Feel free to email us at