Beat Back-to-School Stress
3 Steps to Get Back in the Test-Taking Game
By Rick and Teena Kamal
Many students feel anxious at the beginning of the school year, hindering their ability to study or take tests effectively. Here are some tips for studying effectively and managing time to help students get back in the test-taking game and ace their tests this fall.
1. Use a Planner – Planning ahead is essential for effective studying, yet research indicates only 47 percent of high school students use a planner. Every student should buy a planner or creatively make their own. It should be large enough to write your notes, but small enough to be carried in a backpack. To learn to use a planner, students should first write down important events - personal events (birthday, holidays, family events, etc.) plus school events and extracurricular activities. Then fill in assignments, homework, tests, and deadlines. Students should take their planner to every class, and record assignments and due dates as they get them. As they get familiar with using the planner, they can learn to plan backwards, allotting time to study and review materials in the weeks and days leading up to each test. By keeping up with these self-imposed deadlines, students study more effectively and avoid having to cram.
2. Prepare for the Test – Students should gather all supplies they will need: textbooks, notes, paper, pencils, a calculator, sticky notes, highlighters, colored pencils, etc., and find the studying method that works best for them. Some students need absolute silence with no distractions. Others work better when listening to music. Some may learn better when moving. Research has shown movement during studying or a test can improve learning and retention, especially for kinesthetic learners (people who learn best by experiencing and doing). These students can try sitting on a ball, rather than a chair, or even chewing gum. Other ways to study efficiently include: making flashcards, working through extra problems, reading aloud, rewriting answers, and taking practice tests or quizzes. Taking short breaks of five to ten minutes for every 30 to 60 minutes studying can improve memory, especially if the break includes a snack, stretch, or exercise.
3. Take the Test – On test day, students should always eat a healthy breakfast low in sugar, as well as a healthy lunch if the test is in the afternoon. Have pencils sharpened and ready. Students should start each test by breathing deeply and pace themselves. Rather than spending too much time on a difficult question, skip it and come back to it after finishing the others. Complete the easiest questions first and save the hardest for last. Not sure of the answer on multiple choice tests? Use the process of elimination to rule out wrong answers and narrow down choices. If time permits, review answers.
Students who follow these steps can avoid a lot of the stress that comes with taking tests and feel confident that they have done their best.
About the Authors: Award-winning study and life skills experts Rick and Teena Kamal founded EduNova to prepare students to lead and thrive in the global economy. They worked with 33 top university education experts and many successful senior executives to produce resources that empower middle school, high school and college students to succeed. Learn more at www.HowToStudyBest.com.