Tips on Studying for Tests



by Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed.


For many tweens and teens, studying means quickly readingthrough their textbook or notes. Wrong! Studying isn’t passive; it is a fullcontact sport. In order to really study, students need to get engaged in thematerial. This type of studying is very different from merely reading over thematerial. The following tips will help your child to properly prepare for thenext upcoming test.


Try out a 3×5 card

When your child has a study guide or an old quiz fromwhich to study, they should read the question, cover the answer with a 3x5card, and try to recite the correct response. If they get it right, they checkit off and go to the next one. If it’s wrong, they practice a few more timesuntil they get it down.


Let your teen hold the cards

If your teen has flashcards that he needs to study, lethim hold the cards and quiz you. Studies show that merely allowing the studentto hold the cards and take on the role of the teacher increases time on taskand retention of information.


Utilize mnemonic devices

Researchers have found that using mnemonic devices canhelp students improve their memory skills by connecting to-be-learnedinformation to what the learner already knows. One common mnemonic device isHOMES, which is an acronym for the Great Lakes — Huron, Ontario, Michigan,Erie, and Superior. This strategy can be used with virtually any type of rotememorization. Once students are shown how to use this technique, they come upwith all kinds of catchy acronyms to make retention easier.


Make a practice test

A highly effective way to prepare for an exam involvescreating a practice test. This means that the student generates a sample testof questions he thinks might be on the exam. This information can come from oldquizzes, a study guide, or notes. Encourage your child to ask the teacher aboutthe test format. Will it be comprised of essay questions, fill-in-the-blank, ormultiple-choice? This formation helps with preparation.


Plan ahead

Practice makes permanent when studying for tests,especially when it’s done in advance. Once a deadline for a test is given bythe teacher, your child should record it in his planner along with the smallerstudy tasks leading up to the final date. Breaking a large task, such asstudying, into smaller ones over a period of days increases memory retentionand decreases stress.



Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed. Her award-winning book, Homework MadeSimple: Tips, Tools and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework, offers provensolutions to help make homework less of a chore for the whole family. Learnmore at

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