Higher-Level Thinking Skills

INTERPRETING means explaining or showing what something means.

EXPLAINING means making something clear and understandable.

EVALUATING means judging, arguing, or estimating; expressing an opinion.

PREDICTING means foretelling or declaring beforehand; making a prediction.

OBSERVING means watching, paying attention to, or noticing.

ANALYZING means studying in detail; determining the evidence; breaking down a subject, separating the parts, and examining their relationship to each other.

CLASSIFYING means grouping into sections or categories; sorting or placing into classes.

SYNTHESIZING means pulling together; assembling into a whole; solving, planning, proposing, or constructing.

COMPREHENDING means describing or grasping; understanding; comparing and contrasting; explaining in one’s own words.

HYPOTHESIZING means assuming something for the sake of an argument; proposing a theory, explaining something.

MENTAL TRACKING OUT LOUD means talking to oneself.

What Parents Can Do to Encourage These Skills

Cut out graphs, charts, tables, etc., from a newspaper or magazine.
Ask your child to interpret the graphic. Give a prize for the effort. Inquire how things compare and contrast (are alike and are different). Routinely ask your child’s opinion on a subject or topic. Ask your child what he or she feels is going to happen. On a trip, ask your child to explain what he or she sees or notices. Frequently inquire of your child how parts or elements of something studied fit together. Ask your child to tell you into what groups certain items should be placed or arranged. Ask your child what he or she learned from a specific experience or school project. Ask your child what the author, speaker, presenter, teacher, or friend meant by what he or she said or did. Present this scene to your child: “What if you did …..? What do you think would happen?” Push your child to recite what he or she is mentally going through in figuring out an answer or problem.
Reciting experiences help to vitalize thought processes.
Say, “Tell me what you were thinking and how you arrived at that.”

Tips for Parents
  • Talk to the teachers. Find out when the tests are scheduled and whether there are any weak areas where your child needs extra help.

  • Set your own standards. Make sure your child knows it's important to take the test seriously, follow the rules, and do his or her best.

  • Are you ready? Check to make sure your child has the correct kind of pencils, calculator, or other supplies needed for the test.

  • Early to bed. A good night's sleep is very important the night before a big test. Most children need at least 10 hours of sleep to perform their best.

  • Prepare a good breakfast. Test morning is not the time for a high-sugar snack -- or no breakfast at all. A nutritious and filling breakfast is a must.

  • Keep things in focus. Standardized tests are just one of the ways that schools evaluate children's abilities. Don't believe, or let your child believe, that poor test results mark him or her as a failure.

Tips for Students

  • Relax. Try not to be too nervous before the test. Take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes for a moment and tell yourself to just stay calm and focused.

  • Ask ahead. Find out beforehand if you're expected to finish the entire test. Many timed test have far more questions than most students will be able to answer in the time allowed.

  • Listen Up! Pay close attention to the teacher's instructions and carefully read the test instructions to make sure you understand exactly what you are supposed to do.

  • On your mark, get set - whoa! There's no need to rush, so take your time before answering each question.

  • Watch out for tricks. On multiple choice tests, consider all the choices before selecting the one best answer. Beware of choices that are close to the right answer - but aren't.

  • Keep track. Make sure that you match the number of your answer to the question number on your answer sheet. When answering question #3, fill in the #3 circle on the answer sheet.

  • Doodle bugs. Completely erase incorrect or accidental pencil marks so the sensor doesn't record them as answers.

  • Double jeopardy. Make sure you haven't accidentally filled in two answers for the same question.

  • Move on. If you are having a hard time with one question, leave it and go on to the other questions. Come back later to the hard one - if there's time.

  • Change it. As a rule, you should stick with your first answer. But if you've thought about it afterward, and now think that another answer is better, go ahead and change it.

Tips for Standardized Testing

Schools use standardized tests as a way to identify students' strengths and weaknesses. Take testing seriously!

One of the best things about standardized tests is that when they're over, they're over! The best thing to do after a test, for both parents and students, is to breathe a big sigh of relief - and then celebrate!!!!!

Standardized Test Success

Practice Skills at Home: There are a number of skills that you can easily incorporate into your home routine.


When reading a book or watching a television show or a movie, ask your child to repeat the plot, the story’s characters (including the main character), and the setting. Ask him to retell what happens in the beginning, middle, and end. After you read a book together, ask him questions about what happened.

Language Arts

Work on increasing your child’s vocabulary by using and defining more difficult words in everyday speech. Use a dictionary to check the meaning. Practice using antonyms and synonyms. Have your child become proficient at alphabetical order by organizing materials that way – books, kitchen supplies, videos, etc.


The writing portion of standardized tests usually asks children to respond to a writing “prompt”. This prompt is meant to structure their ideas. You may also want to review basic punctuation and capitalization.


Rather than concentrating solely on computation, standardized math tests usually involve spatial skills, patterns, and sequencing. Encourage your child to learn to count by twos, threes, and fives. Create graphs based on family activities and practice reading graphs together. Practice time and money concepts.


➣Tips for before the test:

Get a good night’s sleep.

Eat a wholesome breakfast.

Dress comfortably.

Be on time to school.

Have all necessary materials (paper, pencil, etc.).

Avoid stressful situations prior to testing.

➣Tips for during the test:

Listen to and read instructions carefully – make sure you understand them.

Do your best. Some of the questions may seem hard, but keep trying and don’t give up.

Answer questions completely.

Check to be sure you have not skipped anything.

Do not let other test takers distract you – it makes no difference who finishes first or last.

If you finish early, go back and proof your answers again. But don’t change anything unless you are sure. Studies show that the first answer you choose is usually the right one.