Study Skills, Study Skills, Studying

How Do Study Skills Improve Standardized Test Scores?

Educators are under enormous pressure to have students perform well on standardized tests. Since standardized tests assess students’ mastery of state benchmarks, it is well known that the best way to improve scores is to provide clear instruction of those benchmarks.

As a result, teachers and administrators are spending vast amounts of time “mapping” their curriculum, carefully aligning their instruction to match state expectations. However, the most solid curriculum map in the world does nothing to ensure that students will learn that content effectively.

In other words, you can teach all the right content, but that does not guarantee that students are “getting it.” Or, that they will “keep it.”

Imagine the path to Benchmark Mastery is a freeway. The students enter the freeway as the teacher introduces the Benchmark to the class. They have a series of reading assignments, lectures, homework, and assessments to complete along their journey.

But, at each mile-marker, there are obstacles that can interfere with their progress towards Benchmark Mastery. Some students overcome these obstacles, but at every interval, several are forced to take the nearest exit ramp. Very few students will actually reach the final destination.


The teacher had done his part. He has followed his curriculum map, covered the benchmark, and provided plenty of instruction, practice, and assessment along the way.

The problem is, the STUDENTS DON’T KNOW HOW TO LEARN! Take a closer look at some of these obstacles to see how they push students off course:

Mile Marker 1: Reading Assignment
Exit Ramp: Students cannot comprehend the information in the text. The technical structure and advanced vocabulary of a textbook will derail 80% of students, right out of the gate!

Mile Marker 2: Class Lecture
Exit Ramp: Students do not know how to take notes effectively. They struggle to understand the “big picture,” therefore do not know how to identify key points, let alone create an effective study guide.

Mile Marker 3: Homework
Exit Ramp: Students do not do homework, or they do it poorly. Even “good students” do not know how to do homework properly. They do homework just to “get it done.” They do not engage effectively in homework to learn from it. Meanwhile, “struggling students” are frustrated because homework takes too long. They often decide it is not worth their frustration.

Mile Marker 4: Chapter Test
Exit Ramp: Students memorize information for the test, but forget it by the next day. They only know one method for studying: cramming!

Destination: Benchmark Mastery
Some students will avoid all of the exit ramps and reach Benchmark Mastery for the short-term. The problem is, the Standardized Test is three months away…


Students are never explicitly taught how to study or learn effectively. Our education system expects them to just “get it.” However, students can apply strategies to homework and studying, just as they do with sports or video games. Someone just needs to show them what to do!

Imagine if students knew how to effectively read textbooks, take excellent notes, and complete homework efficiently? Imagine if they knew how to study so that they were LEARNING, not just memorizing and cramming?

Then, the situation would look like this:

Mile Marker 1: Reading Assignment
Since students know simple, time-saving strategies for reading a textbook, they do the reading. Most importantly, they UNDERSTAND it!

Mile Marker 2: Class Lecture
Students have reviewed the textbook and understand the “big picture,” so they can identify key points. They know shortcuts for taking notes and write down important information. Their notes are now an effective study guide.

Mile Marker 3: Homework
Students know strategies for getting their brain into “high gear.” They can now complete homework faster AND learn from homework at the same time.

Mile Marker 4: Chapter Test
Students are ready! They have been learning information every step of the way and have no need to cram. They know how to use their textbook to review, they have created effective study guides from their notes, and they have learned from errors on homework assignments.

Destination: Benchmark Mastery
Since the students were equipped to LEARN the content (instead of memorize), they have retained the information for the long-term. They can recall the information quickly. Now, they are ready for those standardized tests!

-Susan Kruger


7 Responses to “How Do Study Skills Improve Standardized Test Scores?”

  1. Nicole says:

    Would like more info

    • SOAR Study Skills says:

      Hi Nicole,

      You may want to sign up for the digital review copy of our curriculum at You can sign-up by filling in your information in the box at the top right of the page. Be sure to check the “Please also send me the SOAR® Study Skills Digital Review Copy” box. Have a great day!

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