Acing Exams, Part 2
Create a study plan
When an exam is announced, help your child draw up a study schedule that will let her make the most of her time and avoid last-minute cramming. How many days until the test? What material will be covered?
Break the preparation into manageable pieces (by topic or chapter, for example, or by math problem set), and schedule study time in her planner. Be realistic about how long she can focus effectively: Schedule a few one-hour study sessions a day, rather than a three-hour marathon. Save the last two or three days for an overall review or a time to go over challenging material.
Focus on self-quizzing, rather than merely re-reading material. Quizzing shows a student what material he has down pat, and which areas require more study. Help your child try different learning techniques to find those that suit him. Flashcards are a good way to review facts and figures. Or turn key concepts and terms into mnemonics for quick retrieval.
For math problems, the key is practice, practice, and more practice, to master formulas and techniques. Alter the wording of problems in the textbook and homework assignments to prepare your child for variations that may appear on the test. To prevent careless errors, have him use graph paper, number each step of each equation, and write in big, bold handwriting.
To prepare your child for an essay exam, have him write—or tape-record—a sample essay. Use questions the teacher has asked in class or formulate new ones from the material he needs to know. To test his recall of historical events, have him draw a timeline or a mind map from memory.
Computer jocks may enjoy studying with software such as Inspiration, My Study-Buddy, and Kidwidget, which offer virtual flashcards and other study tools. There is also math and science software for interactive studying. Visit download.com and enter the subject (algebra, biology, geometry) or a specific software program. Most are free to try out online.
If your child learns best through interaction, have him join—or form—a study group. Each member can prepare a quiz for the others on a portion of the material, saving time for everyone and allowing for thoughtful discussion.
Three days before the exam, create a practice test and have your child do a timed run-through. Let her know that she should pretend it’s the real thing, but that she needn’t sweat the results. Wrong answers will show where she should focus her remaining study time.
This article comes from the October/November 2006 issue of ADDitude.