Recently our family got exposed to the wonderful (I say) or slightly wicked (my husband says) world of “competitive” tests like the IAIS, Olympiad etc. and wanted to share our learnings and get some more insights, tips and gyan from fellow parents. Many of the websites have sample test questions that you can expose your kids to. Btw, most of these tests prefer calling themselves diagnostic tests because they help parents and schools better understand how the kids apply knowledge and their skills and development process.
Our journey so far
Being the liberal non-pushy parent, wasn’t going to take these tests as seriously but when I took a look at their sample questions of the 3rd grade IAIS test, I was very impressed with the way they encouraged thinking, problem–solving, reasoning, conceptual understanding versus the current rote based learning. I still find many questions tough since it is a different way of thinking. For example, say in the Science test, all the facts and data are given, but it is how you reason, think, interpret the data and come to conclusions. Amazing. Very impressive.
Then, I came across other parents who were ordering the sample test papers. So some of us parents teamed up and bought the papers and made copies. Our daughter was not able to complete all the practice tests at home. But we plan to do them the year around. Great way to introduce conceptual (alternative, lateral) thinking that is lacking in the current curriculum and the teaching methods. Oh and she loves doing them. Initially, we were lost. But I sat with her with all the questions, even the ones she got right, and slowly we understood the pattern and are getting better and enjoying.
Our third grader took the IAIS test in Bangalore through her school. In fact from grades 3-5, this test is compulsory this year for all the students. The school also gave a schedule of other tests they offered this year like the Olympiad and NTSE.
What is common about these tests?
- They stress on application of knowledge rather than knowledge per se.
- Focus on reasoning, thinking, interpretation of data.
- Standardised tests.
- Objective, multiple choice
- Offered in different subjects depending on the test (English, Math, Science, Computers.
- Schools offer different tests. Some offer IAIS and some ASSET. Some kids enroll individually for these tests if the school does not offer them
- These tests are made appropriate for the Indian context to some extent Many of these tests provide schools diagnostics and metrics about how students did in general and how to improve.
IAIS (International Assessment for Indian Schools)
- AKA (also known as) Macmillan or University of South of Wales, Australia Test
- Dates: Aug 28, 29 2009
- Subjects English, Computer Science, Math, Science
- Classes 3-12
- One of the toughest tests in the spectrum
- ASSESSMENT OF SCHOLASTIC SKILLS THROUGH EDUCATIONAL TESTING (ASSET)
- Core Subjects: English, Maths and Science
- Optional Subjects: Social Studies and Hindi
- Based on the Indian curriculum (CBSE, ICSE and state boards)
- Detailed Skill-wise feedback with customized letter for every student
- Conducted in the school during school hours
- Schools choose to take the test in Summer (July-August) or Winter (December)
- Similar to IAIS. But supposed to be slightly easier.
- Grade 1-12
- Around Oct 6th
- Our school offers only the Informatics Olympiad (computers + general reasoning).
- But they offer Informatics, Science, English and Mathematics.
- Relatively easy compared to IAIS.
- Any other information??
- Offered in most traditional Indian schools. CBSE schools.
NTSE exam (National Talent Science Exam by Unified Council)
- Grades 2-12
- Our school is taking on Jan 31, 2010
- Again offered by most traditional schools
- Devised by the Unified council (academic experts from different fields in India and abroad).
- In the 2nd and 3rd grade, they are on science and mathematics. Later more specialized subjects like chemistry, biology, physics, General Knowledge are offered.
- Traditionally, supposed to be good foundation for other tests offered after school: Exams like IIT-JEE, AIEEE, AFMC, AIIMS, GRE, GMAT, CAT etc.
Some other popular tests out of India:
(Not meant for Indians but can be used as practice tests for our kids)
STAR Test in California
- Through friends, have also got exposed to the STAR test offered by the California state in the U.S.
- Grade 2-12
- You can check out the sample questions at http://www.thesmartbean.com/category/library/library-assessment-tests/library-assessment-california/?r_sortby=highest_rated&r_orderby=desc
- Good practice.
- Relatively simple (me thinks).
MCAS in Masschsetts
Other tests? Please share...
What do you think?
What do you all think about these competitive tests or diagnostic tests for young kids—1st to grades 5?
Do you know they can harm, why do them, or help?
So far my thinking is that to some extent they can help expose your child and you to different approach to learning and thinking (lacking in the traditional set-up). Also prepare for the future real-world. We also use the sample tests in lieu of academic practice workbooks. As long as they do not hinder any original thinking and enthusiasm the kids have.
What say you folks? Also, other tips, information, other fun practice sample tests that you know of. Please share the wealth... ;-)