Taming the Testing Beast


Drawing Courtesy of Reese Havird

You’ve encountered a wild Keestorm. What will you do?

Avery Havird , Staff Writer

Keystones are perhaps one of the biggest stressors for a State High student; these three state-administered tests are not shy of bringing anxiety upon their victims. Beginning around May, students are tasked with completing the Algebra 1, Biology, and English Composition standardized tests. 

Although teachers spend the year reminding and preparing students for this challenge, there come roadblocks to many who may struggle with test taking – leaving them worried on how to prepare themselves and gain more confidence. How are you even supposed to practice or study for a test on content you learned in fall? Is there a cheat code? A special weapon you need to slay this three headed hydra?

Some people find the Keystone exams to not be a problem at all, breezing through the questions with ease. Others however may be stumped when presented with strangely worded questions. 

Allison Becker, a 10th grade English teacher, believes it’s all about playing the game. “Most of the kids that get anxious tend to overthink their answers but it’s just a game, it’s just giving the test makers the answer they hid in the passage and picking it out,” Becker said. 

It may seem impossible to figure out the difference between A and C when asked about the importance of imagery in the poem, but if you strategize through learning definitions and practicing with handouts, you may be able to decipher this hidden code in the questions. 

While each of the tested subjects are drastically different from one another in both content and testing format, they each have a simple and very similar strategy for studying: the sacred handouts. Teachers provide students with information and handouts that hold the key to understanding content, such as root words or tone sheets in English, or definitions of the mitochondria and chloroplasts in biology. Even algebra has some formulas you can review and practice in IXL, one of the learning sites used by State High. It’s all about gathering your resources and spreading out your studying. 

Sophomore Gabriel Geiger, who took the Algebra 1 and Biology Keystones, uses this very strategy. “I think spreading it out is the main thing that I did and I think it worked well so that I’m not overloaded and it helps to stick [the material] in my mind for longer,” Geiger said. 

It can be very overwhelming to even begin to start studying and prepping. Worrying about where to look and what to start on can leave one feeling drained before even beginning to prepare. Not to worry though, State High’s homepage is a great resource to help gather information. Under the Student Resources section or the webpage, there are various links to resources such as SCASD libraries and IXL. The webpage also provides links to the Lions Learning Lounge, among other outlets for tutoring on any of the Keystone subjects.