There are a few things you can do to help improve your children's writing skills. First, they might try finding something to write about within the suggested topic that interests them. I find that when students write about something they care about, the time seems to slip by rather than dragging out. Of course, all topics won't be interesting. Some of the standardized tests will require writing about specific topics that they may find boring. Another technique is to divide up the time. When students have an allotted amount of time for different writing tasks, they seem to keep better focus. Students should divide their time appropriately between the following tasks: brainstorm the topic, create an outline of the essay, supply evidence for each point in the outline, double check that the outline is on topic with the assignment, write the essay, review the topic and requirements again to make sure all required elements have been included, and proof read. Each task will require a different amount of time. For instance, brainstorming will probably take the shortest amount of time while writing the essay itself will take the longest. Each step is important in achieving higher marks on writing tests. Once they have a plan of how to spend their allotted time, the best thing for them to do is to practice, practice, practice.