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Some DCAS tips

February 22, 2013

One interesting thing WordPress shows me sometimes is the search terms that were used to find this blog. One of the more touching and compelling search terms I saw was “how to improve your DCAS scores.” To whoever was searching for that, have no fear – there are things you can do. Asking is the first step.

Practice
First of all, PRACTICE. Put down the XBOX controller and go to the DCAS test site at https://dept.tds.airast.org/student/Pages/LoginShell.aspx. There aren’t a whole lot of tests there, but there are enough. Do all the questions for your grade, as many as the system lets you. Do them for one grade behind your current grade too. You’d be surprised what a difference it can make.

Secondly, did you know you can take the Spring DCAS TWICE and the lowest score doesn’t count? Never mind for the moment it is still winter – the current DCAS testing is the “Spring” test (it’s a long story). It’s a fact of testing that usually you get a higher score the second time you take the test.

So if you just took DCAS or are about to, make sure you take the second test even if you got a 4 on the first test. It can’t hurt, and it’s a great opportunity to take a live DCAS test with no risk, But first go take some practice tests!!

Reading
For reading, there’s only one thing you can do to get ready: READ!! I don’t know how much you can help yourself this year, but if you increase your reading time significantly RIGHT NOW and keep it up, by this time next year you will see a better DCAS score for Reading. If you don’t have a library card go get one now. Find out where your nearest used book store is. If you can think of a book or story you want to read, google for “book name full text”. Maybe you can read it right on your computer. Make a point of reading the news articles you don’t normally read in the newspaper. Stop and write down any words you don’t know and look them up. Go back and figure out any complicated sentences (hint: it’s usually not your fault – they’re just badly written. But you have to understand them anyway).

Oh and by the way, if you are still doing vocabulary or spelling homework, pay attention! These will be the easiest A’s you will ever get, because it is straight memorization, and will help your reading DCAS score. If you are getting less than 100% on this homework, raise your game. If you have vocab or spelling due at the end of the week, don’t save it for the night before. Write all the words down every day until you have them memorized and can write them perfectly. Why do you think they give you so much time to do it? Writing something down repeatedly is the best way to memorize it (for some people it might be reading it out loud).

Math
For math, just make sure you do your homework on time, and each day if you don’t understand your math homework, ask someone for help and figure it out before another day goes by. That’s really the only thing you can do (and pretty good advice anyway). Depending on what grade you are in, make sure you memorize the basic geometric formulas for circles and triangles. There’s only a dozen or so that you really need to know, so you can easily memorize them (see “memorizing vocab” above). But if you’ve been doing your homework you will already have them memorized. Oh yeah – first make sure you understand them and know how to use them. In the summertime, get a math book like last year’s (or similar) and do some problems in the back of the chapters. Or if you’ve already got a handle on last year’s book, start on next year’s book. Really, just do at least 25 per week and it will make a difference, especially in the summer to keep in shape.

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  1. John Young
    March 3, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    These will be the easiest A’s you will ever get, because it is straight memorization, and will help your reading DCAS score.

    unless memorization is your core problem, of course.

    This well intentioned and well written post made me throw up in my mouth a little. Test prep for test prep’s sake= valueless skill, IMO.

  2. March 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    The fact that a student (apparently) is Googling for ways to improve his or her scores is something I deeply respect, and adults should step up and provide some answers.

    I maintain practicing for DCAS will improve scores on all other standardized tests including SAT, and the value of that is undeniable.

    I think it is very reasonable to advise students to read books, do their math homework, and do a few practice tests. I am totally able to separate that advice from however I do or don’t feel about the adults’ issues with DCAS.

  3. John Young
    March 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I maintain practicing for DCAS will improve scores on all other standardized tests including SAT, and the value of that is undeniable.

    I deny it, unequivocally.

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