Ask the Experts

Dear Organizing Coach: How (and When) Do ADHD Brains Study Best?

Children with ADHD rarely excel at studying. In some cases, they’re pushing back against boredom, but in other cases, their lack of organization skills may be making the task overwhelming. Here’s how parents can help kids get organized and make the best use of their focused time.

Q: “What’s the best way to study for a test? How can I get my child organized to make the best use of his focused time?” —SB Mom

Dear SB Mom,

Getting organized to study for a test is sometimes more difficult than the actual studying part. I work with students all day long building this skill set, and I know it can be quite frustrating. While there are too many answers to include in this short column, here are a few of my “Simple Study Steps.”

1. Figure Out What You Need to Study

Sounds simple, right? Not so much. You’d be surprised how many students don’t know their upcoming test dates or subject matter, and what they actually need to know to pass them. And here’s a tip within a tip. It’s not enough to say, “My test is on Mesopotamia.” They need to know what aspects of Mesopotamia, exactly, the test will cover.

[8 Handy Homework and Study Apps]

2. Define and Assign

Once your student has figured out exactly what he needs to know (define), then it’s time to assign specific study times to get the work done. Work backward from the date of the test and allot specific time slots for the work. Another tip within a tip: STUDY BEFORE HOMEWORK. This guarantees some studying will actually get done.

3. Create Study Tools

Most students think re-reading their notes or the textbook is good enough. And simply put, it’s not. Creating study guides, fun flashcards, mock textbook pages, even songs help your student learn the material in creative and novel ways. You should try all of these!

**If you would like tons more tips, check out our VIDEO TUTORIAL, “5 Smart Steps To Effective Study Skills” on our website at We offer step-by-step tutorials on creating the perfect study guide, how to take killer notes, the most effective methods for test taking and so much more.

Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

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