While most parents and students are familiar with NAPLAN, its recent transition online has left many with questions and doubts. We have attempted to answer all these questions here:
“Federal, state and territory education ministers agreed that all schools will gradually transition from the current paper-based tests to the computer-based assessments, with the aim for all schools to undertake NAPLAN Online by 2021”.
How does NAPLAN Online work?
Each NAPLAN Online test will be completed through a real-time internet connection or without an internet connection. The new test will assess a student’s knowledge and their ability to apply this knowledge to solve real-world problems. Research shows that children’s engagement increases when completing a test on a computer and when the questions appear relevant to their lives, two elements which have been successfully incorporated into NAPLAN Online.
All question types are keyboard accessible. Where applicable, there are tests that provide adjustments (audio and visual alternative questions, and five colour themes), which may improve accessibility for some students with disability to access NAPLAN Online. Students with a disability should undertake the demonstration tests at their school, to help determine what accessibility adjustments they may require.
NAPLAN Online will be a “better assessment” for 3 reasons:
1. The exams will be tailored to each student.
NAPLAN Online will be able to adapt the questions provided to students based on their previous answers and assumed ability. This will be achieved by taking advantage of technology and using carefully crafted algorithms to provide the most relevant questions to students. This will allow educators to gain a better understanding of a student’s understanding and ability. For example, if a student is confidently solving questions correctly, the test will begin to provide more challenging questions. On the other hand, if a student is at a below-average level or struggling with the exam, more basic questions will appear.
2. The exams will be more accurate & relevant.
By tailoring the exam to the level of each student, teachers are able to gain a more detailed and accurate understanding of how their students are progressing and how they compare to other students across Australia.
In the case of the top performing student, the online exam can provide a more accurate distribution of their ability against other high achieving students as well as help their teacher appropriately stimulate them to maintain their engagement in learning. For the student who is slightly more behind, the online test can provide questions that assess their foundational knowledge and avoid the challenging questions which may damage their self-confidence. By removing the questions that have been designed to challenge and segment top performers, educators can gain a more detailed understanding of a student’s strengths and gaps, allowing them to create a more specific learning plan.
3. Faster turnaround for results.
As mentioned above, NAPLAN Online will use a special algorithm to simultaneously mark each student’s exam whilst they are completing it to provide more relevant and level specific questions. This means that the exams will be marked, and results distributed to students, parents, and educators quicker than ever before. This allow the students who require assistance the opportunity to seek this help sooner whilst allowing the more advanced students to be given opportunities to excel in the classroom.
How can you prepare for NAPLAN Online?
- NAPLAN practice online Test: ACARA, (The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) has created one NAPLAN practice test per topic for each year level. These tests should be used by students as practice before the actual exam. These tests can be found on their Public Demonstration Site and we encourage all students to familiarise themselves with the online exam prior to the test. This includes how to select answers, question types, on-screen tools, timers, and interactive navigation. Students don’t want to be wasting time trying to navigate the exam and underperform as a result.
- Past Papers: ACARA recommends that all students wishing to prepare for NAPLAN can do so using the previous paper exams. They claim the questions will be of similar style, nature and difficulty and the past papers are a good guide of what students should expect in this year’s online NAPLAN.
- Tuition: At MWNS, NAPLAN Preparation is incorporated into tuition for most students in Year 3, 5, 7 and 9. Our teachers are able to increase the focus and intensity placed on NAPLAN upon a parent’s request, to ensure their child is well prepared for the examination. This more intensive approach includes teaching exam tips and strategies, exposing students to past exam questions and ensuring each lesson is relevant and beneficial to their end goal – performing their best in the NAPLAN examination.
- Intensive Holiday Courses: On top of weekly tutoring, we also offer an intensive NAPLAN Holiday Course which provides students with a head start so they can be exam ready! By working through past papers and exam style questions with our experienced tutors, our NAPLAN courses will help your child feel prepared for the exam and receive results that accurately reflect their knowledge and ability. All students will be provided with course notes, learning resources and tips/guidance on how to best perform in this standardised test.
Preparing for NAPLAN Online – Top Tips
We know that tests can be intimidating, especially for year 3 students who may not have had to complete an exam before. The truth is, whether it’s a child’s first exam or their 100th, it is often quite a daunting experience. Therefore, we recommend NAPLAN practice and preparation to familiarise students with what to expect in terms of the types of questions, how to work in exam conditions and which questions they are allowed to ask the exam supervisors.
To help our students prepare for NAPLAN, we have shared our top 10 tips:
Tip 1: Know the Structure
Make sure your child has a thorough understanding of the structure of the exams. This includes exam dates, knowing the time given for each paper, amount of questions, type of questions and how to navigate the new online test portal. A number of these resources can be found on the NAP Website, the official NAPLAN website.
Tip 2: Practice with Past Papers
Completing past papers is the best way for students to become familiar with the wording, style, and types of questions they will be given. NAPLAN has a unique and repetitive structure/layout, so working through past papers is extremely useful to students of all years completing NAPLAN. All past papers have solutions to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses, helping them decide what to focus on in preparation for the actual exams.
Tip 3: Review Mistakes
Students should review their mistakes, not just simply mark the paper and write a final score. Students should reattempt questions they solved incorrectly or work through the solution with a parent, older sibling, or tutor. Revisiting these mistakes is just as important as completing the paper as understanding and avoiding these errors in future will be critical to performing well in NAPLAN.
Tip 4: Plan Your Time!
One of the most common mistakes students make in an exam is not planning their time and running out of time to finish the test. This can be avoided if they are taught how to plan themselves and best utilise their time. Students should have an already established strategy prior to entering the exam – things to consider include:
- How long is the exam and how many questions are there?
- If there is a tricky question, should they have a guess or come back to it?
- How long should they plan, write, and edit for?
- Should students read the comprehension text or questions first?
To discover which strategy works best for each child, we recommend they complete several past papers and try NAPLAN practice online, and engaging in small experiments to trial what strategies work best for them, and which don’t. They can then use this information to establish a preferred method that they can replicate in the exam.
Tip 5: Practice with Pressure
Once students understand how to manage their time, they must complete exam papers under exam conditions. Exam conditions include sitting in a silent room without distractions, setting a timer and completing the paper without assistance. This environment can be intimidating for students who are unfamiliar with it and therefore it is vital that they become comfortable with it prior to the first exam.
Tip 6: Practice Consistently but not Constantly
It is important for students to study consistently, not constantly, to avoid them feeling overwhelmed or exhausted by their preparation. As educators, we hope that students enjoy the process and see the value in their study and efforts. Constantly practicing for the exam may cause the student to burn out and underperform in the actual exam. Therefore, we recommend practicing NAPLAN questions for 40 minutes to an hour at least 2 or 3 times a week as opposed to cramming in all study the week before.
Tip 7: Place the Focus on Learning Rather than Results
Rather than focusing on exam marks, we should encourage students to focus on the process of learning. If your child has never completed an exam or has not discovered there unique exam preparation style, we encourage you to celebrate and enjoy the journey of identifying strengths, weaknesses and study style with them, using NAPLAN as a goal to work towards.
Tip 8: Practice Different Learning Approaches
Everyone is different and learns differently, so it’s important to try at least a few different learning methods. Sometimes it can be boring or ineffective to simply do the same thing over and over again, so changing it up will be the key to enjoying consistent study. Some ideas to make study more enjoyable include:
- Test yourself by creating flashcards with questions on one side and the answer on the other
- Study with a friend and teach each other
- Create a rhyme, song, dance, acronym, or story to help you remember a content heavy or complex concept
Tip 9: Seek Extra Assistance from Experts
Parents are not expected to be experts in NAPLAN, nor to have the time to thoroughly prepare their children for the exam. As such, seeking assistance from experts, such as Maths Words not Squiggles, can be helpful in ensuring students perform their best in the exam. This includes preparing students for the types of questions they will expect, navigating the new, online platform, understanding the expectations of exams and which questions they can ask, managing their time, avoiding silly mistakes, learning to perform under pressure, and more! Students may seek weekly Maths or English tuition at a primary or high school level or enrol into our intensive (but enjoyable) NAPLAN Preparation Courses to best prepare for the exams.
Tip 10: Maintain Routine on Exam Day
It’s really important that parents and students treat exam day like a normal day. This includes waking up at the same time, eating the same breakfast, packing a usual lunch, etc. Changing up anything on the day of the exam can add to any existing anxieties and create unease. Exam day is just like any other day and the usual routine will help reinforce this.
Tip 11: Remember, it’s just an exam!
As parents and teachers, we should remind our children and students that it is just an exam and no matter what happens, everything will be okay! We should encourage and praise efforts, as opposed to results, and remove pressure and stress from our kids. It is likely that the marks each student receives will not be a surprise, but rather a reflection of their school reports, teacher’s comments, and overall educational performance. NAPLAN results should be used as a benchmark for student performance and a guide for where students should direct extra effort.
The idea of completing a NAPLAN Online test can be daunting for some. Especially for parents who completed NAPLAN themselves or had older children sit the exam with a pen and paper. In saying this, the online exam has been trialled over the past few years and the results have been promising. It is exciting to see Australia taking advantage of technology to provide more accurate assessments with faster results. As educators, we are able to create more tailored learning programs for our students and as parents, you can gain a better understanding of your child’s performance, allowing you to assist them in any way you can.