Published: Apr 09, 2013 11:48 AM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The majority of students in grades 3 through 10 statewide will begin taking a portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test this Monday.

Unlike past years, Lee County Public Schools says it is more difficult to explain who will take what portion of the test and when, as testing schedules and methods are changing. Some students will sit for the exam with traditional test booklets and Scantrons. Others will rotate in and out of computer labs, taking the same test on a computer. Venue and format aside, the fact remains that FCAT test days do not have to result in anxiety for students or parents.Here are some simple strategies to support students as they prepare for next week:

-Ensure students are on a regular sleep schedule, starting now. Most students require up to 9 hours of sleep to feel rested during adolescence.

-Encourage students to drink plenty of water. When students are dehydrated, concentration may waiver. As temperatures and humidity have just recently increased, it is very likely students are forgetting the importance of hydration.

-Encourage students to consume water regularly, and not wait until they are thirsty.

-Don’t skip breakfast, on any day, but especially test days. Like a car, the brain requires fuel to perform. Check with your child’s school to inquire about a breakfast schedule or local businesses that may be providing a discounted breakfast.

-Start talking about the test now. Ask students about any stress or anxiety they may be feeling and brainstorm with the teacher prior to test day about the best way to help your student cope. Remind your student the test is designed to test things they already know. Nothing should come as a surprise.

-Don’t forget practice tests are available online – these can help parents see how their students approach the test and help prepare students for what to expect when they sit for the test.

-Role-play with students what to do if they feel overly anxious once the test begins. Show students how to take deep and deliberate breaths until they feel themselves calming.

-Send them off on a positive note. Words of encouragement can go a long way to boost confidence.

-Encourage students to also encourage one another before the test begins.

-Get them to school on time. A tardy on this day can increase anxiety and may even postpone a student’s test date.Debrief daily by asking students what they liked or didn’t like about the test, or what might have made them feel confident or overly anxious.

-Repeat as necessary. FCAT is not a one-day event. Most students in elementary and middle school will test over several days.

DISTRICT TEST DATES (Please check with individual schools for exact times and other possible changes to this schedule, as computer tests especially may vary by school):

April 15: Grades 3, 4, 5 - FCAT Reading

Grades 6, 7, 8 - FCAT Math

April 16: Grades 3, 4, 5, 8 - FCAT Reading

April 17: Grades 3, 4 - FCAT Math

Grade 5 - FCAT Science

Grade 8 - FCAT Reading

April 18: Grades 3, 4 - FCAT Math

Grades 5, 8 - FCAT Science

COMPUTER-BASED TESTING SCHEDULE:

April 8-19: FCAT Reading and Math retakes for high school students

April 15-26: Grade 5 - FCAT Math

Grades 6, 7 - FCAT Reading

Grades 9, 10 - FCAT Reading

Practice tests may be found at the following link:

http://www.pearsonaccess.com/cs/Satellite?c=Page&childpagename=Florida%2FflPALPLayout&cid=1205461226846&pagename=flPALPWrapper