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What Parents Need to Know About Practice Testing and Why It Works

What Parents Need to Know About Practice Testing and Why It Works

For most of parents, testing comes with some negative connotations. Perhaps it’s because we all remember that sinking feeling of facing a question that we don’t know the answer to on a big exam. Or maybe we feel some lingering resentment towards the stress that came with “high-stakes” assessments like the SAT and ACT, which seem to carry so much weight in determining our entire future.

But, does all testing really deserve the bad rap it tends to receive? In a study from June 2017, Rethinking the Use of Tests: A Meta-Analysis of Practice Testing, researchers from Washington State University make the case that testing, and specifically practice testing, is actually the most effective form of learning over all other types of studying. And, the more difficult the practice quiz, the better the student retains what they learned.

This aligns with a learning strategy called “retrieval practice”, where the focus isn’t on putting information into the brain, but on extracting information out. The act of deliberately recalling information strengthens our memory and actually helps learners identify what they don’t know. The more an individual struggles with retrieving a piece of information, and the more regularly they attempt to retrieve this information, the better their retention of the content.

Study Island for Home is built around this idea of “retrieval practice,” providing over 600,000 unique practice questions to help students retain the information they’ve learned. Each lesson is followed by a quiz testing the material that the student just studied and providing instant feedback if a student chooses the wrong answer.

Not only is Study Island for Home’s structure optimal for retaining information, other studies (like this meta-analysis and this study on mathematics learning specifically) have shown that just 30 minutes of week of sustained practice using online programs results in significant academic improvements. Our own tests have shown that Study Island for Home users show significant improvement in the content studied after only weeks of sustained practice. Thoughtful, deliberate practice, utilizing the practice tests within Study Island for Home, results in significant improvement. This proves “practice makes perfect.”

And, practicing at home is an ideal environment for learning, as students who complete practice tests can do so within an environment of encouragement and support. The low-risk nature of practice tests at home contribute to deep learning, with parents readily available to give one-on-one attention to their student, as opposed to a teacher overseeing an entire classroom of students. The comfort, support, and focused environment of home can encourage kids to persevere through challenging topics and skills, and develop the kind of grit and growth mindset that will benefit them in the classroom and beyond.

So, look beyond the negative associations with testing. Sustained practice and regular retrieval exercises (i.e. practice tests) over a long period of time do result in big gains. Study Island for Home is an excellent to provide those experiences for your child and help them excel towards their academic goals. With curriculum spanning grades K-12 and tailored for your state standards, Study Island for Home is perfect to help your child catch up or get ahead. And, the program’s detailed parent dashboard gives you the insight you need to provide your child with meaningful support, along with the option to offer customized rewards for completing assignments.  

Ready to see how much progress your child can achieve with sustained practice? Start your free trial of Study Island for Home today!