Lesson Tutor : Learning Skills : Study Habits : Elaine Ernst Schneider

Help Your Child Study for Tests

by Elaine Ernst Schneider
Your child is tense. You ask why. Big test tomorrow. Lots of information. Lots of stress. As a parent, what can you do to help? Try this five-step plan.

1) SURVEY — Find a comfortable spot where both of you can see the open text book – the kitchen table, the sofa, a desk, even on the bed. Find the chapter(s) that will be covered on the test. Look at titles, pictures, headings. Get the general idea. Discuss with your child what he or she thinks the chapter was about. Ease into it gently.

2) FORMULATE QUESTIONS — Depending on the age of the child, you may have to quickly scan the text and look for likely questions that might be good test possibilities. With older children, begin involving your son or daughter in this. Ask, “What do you think the teacher thought was important?” Always look for definitions. These make great multiple choice questions. Another strategy is the Who did it? question. For instance, if the text says that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, look for a test question over that.

3) USE TEXT HINTS — Teachers do! Look for bold printed text. The author of the book is emphasizing the importance of that fact. The teacher may do the same on the test. Look for a summary at the end of the chapter. Teachers often pull test questions from summaries. Check out any exercises in the chapter, review questions, and the like. I have known teachers to take review questions from the chapter and simply reword them for the test.

4) ANSWER AND RECITE — Once you have discussed the key points and determined possible test questions, take the book and begin to ask your child questions over the material. Allow him to answer. If the answer is wrong, immediately give the correct answer. Do not allow the wrong answer to stay in his mind too long, as this could cause confusion later. Recite the correct answer. Come back to that question later so that the correct fact can again be reiterated. The answer he or she hears the most is the one that will be remembered.

5) REVIEW SHEETS — If the teacher has given students review sheets, these are invaluable. Most teachers make their review sheets by looking at the test, so the review sheet will most likely parallel the material on the test. If the teacher did not supply a review sheet, it is sometimes helpful to make your own review device. Be creative. It doesn’t have to be a page of questions and answers. Use 3X5 cards, for instance, and write a word on one side and the definition on the other. Visual techniques along with the oral review better prepare a child for tests because more senses are actively involved. He hears it, writes it, and says it. Older children should learn to make their own written reviews because that involves tactile/kinesthetic senses. A technique for older students is a computer review sheet – there is learning going on as they type up questions and answers. They are literally seeing it and feeling it.

No matter what the age of the child, tests can be stressful. Teach your children early on to tackle material to be learned systematically. Giving a child a plan for organization takes away a great deal of the stress and the student will walk into that classroom feeling prepared and therefore more in control of his or her “fate” in regard to the test.

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