STUDYING FOR TESTS
Executive Skills Needed: 1. Task Initiation, 2. Sustained attention, 3. Planning, 4. Time management, 5. Metacognition.
Steps to take:
- Keep a monthly calendar with your child on which any upcoming tests are written.
- From 5 days to a week before the test, make a study plan with your child.
- Using the Menu of Study Strategies, have your child decide which strategies he/she wants to use to study for the test.
- Have your child make a plan for studying that starts 4 days before the test. Research shows that when new material is learned, distributed practice is more effective than massed practice. In other words, if you plan to spend 2 hours studying for a test, it is better to break the time down into smaller segments (such as 30 minutes a night for 4 nights) than to spend the full 2 hours studying the night before the test. Research also shows that learning is consolidated through sleep, so getting a good night’s sleep the night before an exam is more beneficial than “cramming” the night before.
- For children who have problems with sustained attention, using several strategies each for a short amount of time may be easier than using on strategy for the full study period. You can set a kitchen timer for the length of time for each strategy, and when the bell rings, you child can move on to the next strategy.
Depending on your child’s level of independence, he/she may need help making the study plan, may need prompting to follow the plan, and may need supervision while he/she is following the plan. You can gradually fade this support, first by having you child check in with you after he’s finished each strategy, but keeping all the other supports in place. Cueing to make the study plan and prompting to start studying will likely be the last supports you can fade.
- After your child takes the test or after the graded test is returned, ask your child to evaluate how the study plan went. Which strategies seemed to work the best? Which ones were less helpful? Are there other strategies he/she might try the next time? How about the time devoted to studying?
- If your child felt he/she studied adequately, but still did poorly, check with /her teacher for feedback about what might have been done differently. Did your child study the wrong material or did he/she have a study guide from the teacher.
- If your child consistently does poorly on test despite studying long and hard, consider asking his/her teacher for modifications; this may require evaluations for Special Education or Section 504.
- Add an incentive system—rewards for good grades on test.
Dawson, P., & Guare, R. (2009). Smart but Scattered. New York: The Guilford Press. P. 162-163.
TEST PLANNING SHEET
Menu of Study Strategies: Which one’s will use?
____ 1. Reread text
_____ 2. Reread/organize notes
_____ 3. Read/Recite Main points
____ 4. Outline text
_____ 5. Highlight text
_____ 6. Highlight notes
____ 7. Use study guide
_____ 8. Make concept maps
_____ 9. Make lists/organize
____ 10. Take practice test
_____ 11. Quiz myself
_____ 12. Have someone quiz me
____ 13. Study flash cards
_____ 14. Memorize/ rehearse
_____ 15. Create a “cheat sheet”
____ 16. Study with a friend
_____ 17. Study with a study group
_____ 18. Study time with teacher
____ 19. Study with a parent
_____ 20. Ask for help
_____ 21. Other:
# of Study Strategies
Time for each strategy
4 days before test
3 days before test
2 days before test
1 day before test
- What strategies worked best?
- What strategies were not so helpful?
- Did you spend enough time studying? Yes ___ No ___
- If no, what more should you have done?
- What will you do differently the next time?
From Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare. Copyright 2009 by The Guilford Press. P. 163-164.