Although I enjoyed school, I can't say that my study habits or test preparation skills were quite up to par. More often than not, I'd spend the night before a big test cramming as much into my overtired brain as possible, then I'd regurgitate it the next day and hope for the best. Now, I'm not saying this blog is going to change the fact that students have always, and will continue to procrastinate, but maybe you can use these tips to help encourage students to better prepare for the big tests coming their way.
1. Avoid cramming.
Students should allow themselves plenty of time to prepare adequately. A pitcher doesn't throw a full nine innings the day before he starts a baseball game. He wants to be fresh, so he does some light exercise and calls it a day. The same can be true of studying. Prep in advance so that the day before, a light refresh is all that's necessary.
If students can avoid the cram sessions late into the night, they can sleep. And sleep, as we all know, is vital to functioning at any age, especially for kids needing to perform their best.
3. Maintain proper nutrition and hydrate.
I refer to Michael Scott of The Office for this. He binge ate fettucini alfredo and took in no water just before running a 5K. The result was not pretty. Students should know that eating junk food and/or living on caffeine alone is not going to do them any favors come test day. Nutritious foods and water are key.
4. Exercise, take a break, dance.
Whatever the test, it's not life or death. It's okay to take a break every once in a while, perhaps even have a little fun. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and even just relaxing can help get the ol' brain back on track.
5. Bring order to your study space.
"Order" for each student is likely going to vary. For me, it was a fresh print-out of all my notes, a new highlighter, and lying on the floor. For my sister, it was sitting upright at the table with a checklist. Whatever it is, students should find what works for them and do it.
6. Re-do homework, practice tests, study guides.
It's really quite silly for a student not to use the materials readily available to them. What better way to study than to use the work they've already done, that is eerily similar to the test they're about to take?
7. Encourage and motivate, don't cause anxiety.
(This one is for the parents and other adults.) Find a healthy balance where you can both encourage and cheer the child on, without causing unnecessary anxiety or fear. It's perfectly normal to have high expectations, but nobody wants a stage parent waiting in the wings while they take a test.
8. Talk it out.
Whether it's to memorize something, rehearse a speech, or create a story that helps the student remember details, saying it out loud helps. Not only is the student reading the words, they're hearing them too. Two birds, one stone.
9. Write it out.
This was my go to. I printed, highlighted, and re-wrote every note I ever took. By hand. Writing things by hand allows you to slow down and take in what you're writing instead of flying through with your hands on the homerow keys.
10. Say no to social media, at least for a bit.
Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. all stand at the ready to steal our attention, and for kids and teens, that's even moreso the case. Say no, just for a while, and see how much you can accomplish.
11. Analyze, revise, repeat.
Look back on past test experiences. What worked? What Didn't? What did you promise yourself you'd never, ever, ever do again? Take your own experiences and figure out what worked, and repeat those habits. Toss all the ones that didn't down the drain.