That is, when they realize they don’t have enough time or information to give a correct answer—they don’t give up. They give it their best shot.

Here are some ideas you can suggest your teen try the next time he gets stuck on a question:

  • Politely ask the teacher to clarify the question or tell about the kind of answer expected.

  • Skip over the question and allow the subconscious mind to work on it while you work on other questions.

  • Rephrase the question in your own words.

  • Start writing something—anything that relates to the question topic. Then other ideas might start to flow.

  • Replace the question with a related one that you can answer. Make sure to let the teacher know you’re aware you’re not answering the question asked. Admit to not knowing the answer and answer your own question.

  • When you don’t know what something is, write down what it isn’t. The teacher will know you have at least learned something.

  • Write “Short of time!” and finish the answer in outline form.

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