When it comes to studying for tests, preparation is key. In our newest video, we discuss a few tips to help you prepare, starting with your work in the classroom.
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Posts about Study Techniques
In our latest video, we discuss procrastination and how best to handle it. Procrastinating is something that nearly all of us do. But for some students putting off tasks can lead to the feeling that even starting them is impossible, leading to unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Class is over. Michael sighs, leans back, and stretches his fingers, which are cramped from nonstop writing. He briefly surveys (with virtuous pride) what he’s done in his spiral notebook over the last fifty minutes. Mission accomplished, he thinks. No one can accuse him of sleeping through class! He slams the notebook shut, shoves it in his backpack, and heads off to lunch, soccer practice, and the rest of his day.
Fast forward to the night before the big test. Michael settles into his study chair and opens his notebook marked “American Government.” He stares blankly at what seems to be an alien language.
Posted in Study Techniques
“I’m just not a good test taker.”
If you come in contact with school-age students, you may have heard this lament.
There are many factors that contribute to success on tests. Typically, one of the largest factors is a student’s consistency in completing everyday tasks like homework. If the student is not completing his homework, you can expect that he will struggle with tests. In contrast, some students have high test grades and poor homework grades. More commonly, though, students do well on classwork and homework but receive average or poor test scores. In some cases, this is due to what is known as “test anxiety.”
At times, teenagers seem to speak a foreign language consisting of sighs, eye rolls, and shoulder shrugs that can be difficult to decode. But the yawn is one signal that is easily understood. And while a yawn typically signifies a need for sleep, lack of sleep among teens is a bigger problem than a simple nap can solve.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that one in five Americans face every day, a disorder that can impede a student’s ability to proficiently read, write, and spell. There is no medication for dyslexia, but fortunately, there are plenty of dependable resources that can help people with dyslexia become good readers and writers.
In “Tips from Dyslexic Students for Dyslexic Students,” an article from the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity by Nancy Hall, dyslexic students who have worked to improve their own reading and writing skills share tips on managing time, using the right technology, and staying positive.
For many students, it’s difficult to grasp this concept. If Emily has mastered a lesson, she wants to put her pencil down and walk away. If Scott has aced a test, he’s ready to throw away his notes from the cramming session the night before.
According to psychological studies, however, overlearning is important to successful retention of material and execution of tasks. “Don’t Just Learn -- Overlearn,” a blog post by Annie Murphy Paul, explains the empirical evidence behind overlearning.
While it is true that the efficacy of study techniques varies, based on each individual's strengths, aptitudes, and personality, according to research by the Association for Psychological Science, some study habits are more effective than others.
Writer Annie Murphy Paul describes some of the best and worst ways to learn in an article on Time.com, Highlighting Is a Waste of Time: The Best and Worst Learning Techniques.
Here are some of the techniques she discusses in her article:
The Most Effective Ways to Learn
- Distributed practice - "This tactic involves spreading out your study sessions, rather than engaging in one marathon," Murphy Paul writes. "Cramming information at the last minute may allow you to get through that test or meeting, but the material will quickly disappear from memory. It’s much more effective to dip into the material at intervals over time. And the longer you want to remember the information, whether it’s two weeks or two years, the longer the intervals should be."
- Practice testing - Self-testing or taking practice tests over to-be-learned material. "Practice testing could involve practicing recall of target information via the use of actual or virtual flashcards, completing practice problems or questions included at the end of textbook chapters, or completing practice tests included in the electronic supplemental materials that increasingly accompany textbooks." (Source: Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology)
Less Effective Ways to Learn
- Highlighting and underlining - "Some research even indicates that highlighting can get in the way of learning; because it draws attention to individual facts, it may hamper the process of making connections and drawing inferences," Murphy Paul shares.
- Rereading - While this is a very common approach, it is a passive, rather than active study technique, and does not generally lead to better comprehension or retention.
- Summarizing - Noting the main points of a text in order to get the gist while leaving out unimportant details - while there may be some benefit to using this approach, distributed practice and practice testing have been shown to be much more effective.
Of course each student is unique and therefore the best approach to learning new materials will vary from one student to the next. However research on learning continues to provide insight into best practices.
A+ Test Prep and Tutoring is proud to provide our tutors with regular professional development sessions covering the latest discoveries in the science of learning. Our instructors bring the benefit of this knowledge to their tutoring sessions.
If your student is in need of a tutor or an academic coach, please call us today at 215-886-9188 or 610-520-0537.