Survival Tips for Standardized Testing

The months of March, April, and May are swamped here at 21CCCS. We busily prepare to distribute state standardized tests to our students, who live all throughout the commonwealth. This is no easy task for a cyber school. We try to make the testing schedule convenient and workable for everyone. But, what really makes this time of year challenging is assuaging the anxieties of our students. They ask teachers a slew of questions each day regarding the PSSAs and Keystones.
 Fortunately for each of you, your amazing teachers have great advice to share. You don’t have to worry about taking your exams. There are plenty of things you can do and learn to feel prepared. When I asked our teachers some of the questions students have been asking lately, here is what they had to say:


1.) How can I best prepare for the test?


The night before, it is important to get sleep! Head to bed early so that you arrive at your testing site ready to work! The morning of your test, it is a great idea to eat a good, healthy breakfast. It should be well balanced.  Cereals packed with sugar will make you jittery, or lead you to crash at some point later in the morning. Include protein in whatever you decide to eat!

K_testsMakeYouNervous12.) What should I do in the weeks and months leading up to the tests?


It’s always a great idea to come to live classes and test prep sessions. They are designed to help you! And your teachers want to work through these things with you. Work sessions are designed in a way that allows for small group engagement. These can be especially helpful because they can assist you in understanding different topics and skills that will be tested. It’s also a good idea to remember to work ahead in your classes. Finally, double check which sites and dates you are testing at. We wouldn’t want you to arrive at the wrong spot on the wrong date! If you need help confirming this, simply check in with our Guidance Department, or your P4SL.

3.) What will my workload be like during the weeks of testing?

Unfortunately, students are responsible for the work assigned in each of their classes while working through the testing period. Teachers suggest working ahead as much as possible to accommodate for the lost time. This is a great time to practice time management skills and pacing. There will be time over the weekends and in the evenings to complete your work. So plan ahead! If you need help organizing your schedule, your teachers and P4SLs are here to help! Give us a call anytime!

4.)  Who will be at my testing location on the day of the test?


Any teacher or faculty member can be assigned to the testing sites. Each location will have one male and one female acting as proctors. These individuals may be one of your teachers, but there is no guarantee. There will also be other students who live in and around the area where your test has been scheduled. This is a great opportunity to get together with your local classmates!

5.)  What should I bring to the testing center?


A lunch, computer, charger for your laptop, calculator, and a book to read afterward. Cell phones are permitted, but they will not be available to you while testing is in session. Please do not bring any other electronic devices. Last year, some students asked if they could bring gum. That is allowed! Some snacks will be provided by 21CCCS to enjoy during breaks.

6.)  Is this a graduation requirement?
While the PSSAs are state exams that gauge how schools are performing, they do not impact your graduation. The Keystone Exams are, however, a part of your graduation requirements. You must pass these in order to graduate from 21CCCS.

7.) Can I ask questions or get help while I’m taking it?

Teachers cannot help you to answer the questions themselves. Teachers will provide directions and instructions at the start of each test section. Students may ask for clarification and they will receive help with that.

8.) Can I go to the bathroom while I’m testing?

If you need to leave the room to use the facilities, you will be escorted by a teacher.

9.) How long are these tests?


There is no time restriction on the test, so you can take as long as you like. In many cases, students may test for about 6 hours in one day. Several breaks are provided throughout the day. Your proctors will encourage you to stretch, play games, and clear your mind, in between these tests.

10.) How do I find out where my test is being offered? 


Your testing location will be emailed to you and your parents/guardians through FirstClass mail. If you have not received an email, be sure to check in with the Guidance Department promptly.