Many children will return to school after the holiday and begin preparing for semester exams. Exams that cover a whole semester can be overwhelming for some students, especially if they do not do well on tests that are shorter and cover less material.
Here are some steps to take to prepare for exams. You need to take these steps for each exam you will be taking. This takes a lot of time, so plan to stay home a lot the week before exams.
- Find your old tests. Important concepts will be on tests you already took. It is unlikely there will be concepts on the exam that you haven’t had before. The questions might be different, but really they are asking for the same information. Therefore, you need to find all of your old review guides and tests. (Put homework assignment and worksheets in a pile together in case you need them, but the most important thing is the old tests.)
- Compare what you found to what another classmate found. Make sure that you both have the same tests. If not, ask your teacher if it is okay to make a copy of someone’s test or if she will give you another blank copy. It’s best to have one that is already filled out and graded if your teacher will allow you to get a copy of someone else’s test.
- Find your notes and important handouts. If your notes are incomplete, ask a friend if you can have a copy of theirs to help you study. You need to spend some quality time reading through your notes and handouts. Highlight important concepts and put a question mark or star beside things that are hard for you. Also highlight vocabulary words you learned during the semester. If you made vocabulary charts or study cards for the tests, make sure you still have them. If not, you will need to make them now. Figure out which of the things you highlighted were on the tests you already took. Focus on those concepts when studying for the exam.
- Set up a schedule for when you plan to study. During your study time, use your study charts or cards to drill. Read through your notes slowly and think about what they mean. If you are sure you know something, do not spend a lot of time practicing it over and over. Focus on what you still do not know. Studying an hour just before bed can be helpful. Some research suggests that your brain keeps working as you sleep! It is also useful to study with a partner who is going to take the exam. That way, you can share ideas with one another and ask each other questions.
- Look for themes. The final step is to try to figure out if there are themes that occurred throughout the semester. Making a study web can help you to identify them. If there are themes, they are likely to show up as questions on the exam.
If you get anxious when taking exams, use deep breathing to help you calm down. If you prepare well, you should do fine. Remember that it’s hard work that pays off, not just luck.