Exams can be stressful for any student, no matter their level. Taking a big picture view of test preparation by organizing your study approach throughout the year (not just during exam week) can make a big difference. This article provides tips for parents, teachers, and students to help make school go a bit smoother. I've written the tips as if talking directly to the student, but know that you can adapt these to help your kids or pupils.
organize your approach
Creating an organized approach to studying means dedicating both space and time. Create a good study space at home (see here) where you feel comfortable and focused. That means far away from distractions. Hang a whiteboard or calendar so that you can post a schedule for studying. For example, if you are going to study right after school, or after dinner, write that down on a weekly calendar. You can also write down what you're going to study, such as reviewing notes from classes that day. You'll also want to have a calendar where you can mark down assignment due dates and test dates.
try something new
There are many different ways to learn, and many of us don't learn best by reading textbooks and taking notes. Try to pinpoint what part of the learning process you're struggling with, and then make a plan. Reading assigned chapters BEFORE you go to class means you've already seen the material that will be presented to you orally. Instead of hearing that information for the first time, you'll be able to synthesize the presentation with what you read prior. Take notes or record the lecture, and review it later that day while it's still fresh. When you're preparing for exams, think about how your teacher has quizzed or tested you in the past. What sort of questions do they posit during class? Create flashcards with quiz questions or read through your notes out loud rather than just copying and highlighting your notes all over again. You can even create your own worksheets to learn more.
talk to the teacher
It's never a bad idea to reach out to a teacher or counselor and let them know you'd like some help. It's even better if you're proactive about it. The teacher may offer office hours or tutoring outside of school hours that can help with tough topics. If the teacher doesn't offer tutoring, you can look online to connect with one individually. One of the benefits of working with a good tutor is the one-on-one time and the dedication to help you learn the information in a way that makes sense to you.
prep for exam day
If you have test anxiety, there are ways you can 'practice' taking the test to help. Test anxiety can manifest as "blanking out" on test day. Try to simulate the testing environment at home - create an answer sheet and practice exam (ask your teacher for one), and "take" the test just like you would at school. If the test is on the computer, or is an essay test, then mimic that environment. Practice breathing exercises to help calm you down.
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