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A Teacher's Study Tips for Exams

It is about the time of year when teachers begin talking about exams! At my school, we have first semester exams next week. Teachers here spend all of this week reviewing for them to make sure their students know what will be on them.

Some schools, however, do not allow for review time.

If that’s the case at your child’s school, here are some hints to help if he’s preparing for exams without the benefit of having a review week. The first three bullet points describe the “PAT” system for studying, which stands for Prepare, Act, Test.

Prepare to learn. Begin your review by gathering everything together for each course you take. Especially find tests you took and special handouts that helped you to understand the concepts. Pay close attention to points you missed on the tests. If you did not know it when you first took it, it is likely that you still don’t! You will need to figure out how you are going to learn these concepts. (You may have friends who can help you, or you may need a meeting with your teacher.) Throw away extra things such as daily homework that probably will not to be helpful.

Take an action to learn. The actions you need to take will help you to actually remember the concepts on the exam. You can make study charts like the one described here. Be sure to follow the links in that blog post, because it leads to additional articles about studying. One important action is to identify what you already know and what you still do not know. You should spend most of your time on what you still do not know!

Test yourself. Once you have prepared yourself and taken the actions, you need to test yourself to make sure you really do know it. You can ask your parents or friends to call questions out to you. Or, if you made a study chart or cards, you can test yourself using them. Remember—if you are looking at it then you do not know for sure whether you can remember it without looking at it.

One final tip. If it was not important enough to put on a test, then it probably is not important enough to show up on an exam. I will admit, however, that there are some teachers who do not agree with me on this. However, most of us feel that exams should highlight only the most important information from the semester. It is not possible to put everything we studied on the exam, so we pick the most important.

Best wishes with exams! It takes hard work to do well in school. Using the PAT study system can be helpful. Let me know if you have other strategies that work for you.

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#2 Livia McCoy 2012-01-10 23:02
Jan, even when they get the study packets they will need to take the steps above. If they are having trouble in a particular class, I would encourage them to begin earlier. This is especially true if they are going to need an appointment with their teacher or to set up a study group with friends. If they are doing okay in a class, waiting until the week before is probably enough study time.
#1 Jane 2012-01-10 22:50
When I ask my kids if they started studying they say they have not received the review packet yet and yet often teachers don't give out these packets until a week before. Should kids wait until then or should I encourage them to start sooner? What should they do before they get the packet?

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