We all could use a little help in making learning a little easier. With simple strategies, you can help yourself or your child learn to perfect test taking and improve study skills.
Studies have shown that from late elementary school into college, studying and test taking is often a major hurdle for children. And if your child already has a learning disability, the difficulty can be even more pronounced. If your child’s test scores have fallen during this time period and their stress level has increased, there are a handful of ways you can help. Questions to ask include:
1. Does your child know what to study? If your child appears to have difficulty discerning what to remember during a lecture or in reading a textbook, ask them these few questions: a) Have they checked in with the teacher about the content of the test? b) Has the teacher provided a study guide or practice test? c) Does your child have a plan for studying?
Helping your child recognize verbal cues the teacher may give that will signal the information’s importance is also important. If the teacher says, “Write this down”, “Let Me Summarize”, “This Is Important” or “I’ll write this on the board”, the student should make note of the information. Review information in your child’s textbook with them as well, going over chapter and section headings, words, phrases or sentences that appear in bold, sidebar information and questions at the end of each chapter.
2. Does your child know how to study? – Show your child strategies in organizing, remembering, and prioritizing information. Make sure your child is also doing nightly reading assignments and using a system to record information. Have your child summarize to you what they have learned and help your child organize their materials by cleaning out binders and folders, or setting up sections with tabs. Showing your child tricks in remembering information through sentences or acronyms, rhymes or relating information known to something unknown, can be helpful. Drawing pictures or cartoons is also helpful to many students, especially if they are a visual learner.
3. Does your child know how to monitor their work?– As a student, you need to have necessary skills to check your work. Ask your child to look through graded homework assignments and previous tests to find patterns of mistakes. Another solution is to help your child make a personalized checklist of test taking techniques, looking back to see if any questions were missed or if the answer to the problem was properly spelled out and answered accordingly.
4. Does your child know how to set goals and pace their work?– Does your child rush through studies? You can help your child set goals and pace their work. Ask them to create and review a study plan, setting a timer for a certain study period. Make sure your child builds short breaks into their schedule. Encourage your child to focus on their strengths and emphasize their efforts and that you are proud of them.
Practice these four strategies with your child or even with yourself and you will find that such practices will follow you through a lifetime and reward you over and over again.