Before you begin, you need to have some idea of their current problem solving skills. For example:

- How do they attack different types of problems?
- What strategies do they use?
- Are they functioning below grade level, at grade level, or above?
- If they struggle, is it due to poor computation skills, poor reading skills, or misconceptions about basic math concepts?

**The Problem with Problem Solving Pretests**

Unfortunately, most math word problem pretests don't provide enough information to help us answer those questions, let alone know where to begin instruction. Many tests are so challenging that kids who've been out of school all summer are likely to give up after making a token effort to solve the first few problems. Also, most tests use a multiple choice format which makes them easy to grade, but not so easy to interpret. Students don't have a place next to each problem to show their work, so you're left guessing as to the reason they missed each incorrect answer.