8 Answers from Ann for Finals Season Success
1. What's the most common misconception about studying for finals?
Students often think that just reading equals studying. But studying must be interactive. There must be some form of writing involved to truly cement the information to memory.
2. Are there different concerns for students with ADHD?
One of the problems is that students will often block off two or three hours to study. That's often not productive. No one can sustain attention for three hours, especially a student with ADHD. When studying is broken down into 30-minute chunks, students are far more productive.
3. What is the easiest thing students can do to improve their scores on finals?
Study after study has shown that when students summarize their notes after class, they're far more likely to remember the material.
4. What is the benefit of forming study groups?
Among many positives, it gives students a sense of accountability. You tell yourself, "OK, I'm going to put aside this time to study." And if you don't do it, you get mad at yourself. It rides on your shoulders. But if you have a group, you're more accountable. And you're forced to process the information in another way. If you discuss the material with a group, you're far more likely to remember it.
5. Is there a good strategy for dealing with anxiety during a test?
Yes. Have a notepad handy during the test to write down all of your anxieties. Studies show that this is the most effective way to alleviate anxiety at test time. You simply have to purge the negative thoughts and emotions.
6. As a parent, how do I keep my sixteen-year-old daughter on track for exams? When I ask her about studying, she says she doesn't have any upcoming tests.
This is a very tough situation. High schoolers want so desperately to be independent, but they often lack the skills to do so. I would tie privileges to effort. That means take the emphasis off grades (they're too long-term, too far out) and instead, put an emphasis on study time. If your daughter drives, tie her driving privileges to the amount of time she spends studying each day. This study time can be homework completion, preparing for a test, really anything academic. If she doesn't drive, tie the privilege of going out with friends to effort.
7. What are the best strategies for dealing with a child who procrastinates?
This really depends on the age of the child. For younger children (elementary age), set a start time. There are four times a child can do homework: right after school or after a short break, before dinner, after dinner, or before bed. With your child, select one of the first two options.
Setting a time to get started is far more important than establishing a time at which your child needs to be finished. Once he has his work out, help him to get going by making sure he knows how to review his notes and study guide. Check in with him after 10 minutes to be sure he's on track.
For middle and high school students, ask questions instead of telling your child what to do. After all, no one likes to be told what to do! Start with questions such as "Do you have any finals coming up? How might you break up studying? What will be your first steps?"
8. How do you encourage a student who gets so nervous during multiple choice tests that she overanalyzes almost every question and constantly second guesses herself?
Here are a few strategies that should do the trick:
- For multiple choice questions not involving math, encourage your daughter to anticipate the answer BEFORE she actually looks at the answer choices.
- Statistics show a student's first inclination is usually right. Encourage your daughter to go with her gut instead of overanalyzing the possibilities.
- Students should mark up their test booklets as much as possible. That means that they should write out every step to a math problem and cross out answer choices that they know are wrong. This is called "slashing the trash".
- And finally, if your daughter comes upon a question she does not know, encourage her to skip it and to go back later. Often times, students find answers in other questions as they work through the test.
With these tips, you'll hopefully be better prepared to take on finals season. While its hard not to dread them at first, finals can actually be a useful tool to help start your family's summer on a great note! If you're interested in implementing some of the strategies discussed here, make sure to discuss it with your tutor.
Our highly experienced tutors can help assemble a plan for finals and, more importantly, make it happen! If you're considering a tutor, we encourage you to take the next step by filling out our contact form. For more tips on improving test scores, make sure to watch our 90 second clip on raising study skills IQ.