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Exams are coming up soon in many schools. I have written several times before about exams such as How To Prepare for Semester Exams. Many students know how to make flashcards or to use online apps like Quizlet to learn vocabulary and simple concepts that they need to memorize, but studying for more complex concepts and math require different techniques.
When your child needs to learn complex concepts like Newton’s Laws of Motion, simply memorizing the laws is not enough. He also needs to know what they mean and when each law applies. It is often helpful to meet with a study group to discuss more difficult concepts. Sometimes, drawing pictures of each law can help to make sure he really understands what they mean. He also needs to work the problems from his earlier test on Newton’s Laws to make sure he still knows how to work them. He might have been able to work the problem weeks ago on the test, but that does not necessarily mean he can still work them on the upcoming exam. Other complex concepts are best learned through webbing in order to see relationships between concepts. Refer to Using Webbing To Study for a Test to see how webbing works.
When studying for a math exam, it is imperative that your child works more than one of every kind of problem that will be covered. The best way to do this is to work many of the problems she got correct on the previous tests. This works well because she will have the correct answers from the test to check to see if she still gets the correct answer. For the problems she missed, however, she will need to seek help from her teacher or a friend who got them right. Just doing the problems is not enough! She must make sure she is doing them correctly. Most students do not study for math tests. They rely on their teacher to review in class. For a shorter test that only covers one or two concepts, that might be enough, but for an exam that covers a lot more material, it is not.
Talk to your child about exams. Encourage him to start early, get organized by finding all his tests in each subject, and begin working sample problems. Ask him to explain the more complex concepts on his earlier tests. Suggest that he try a study group, pictures to illustrate concepts, or webbing to help him remember what these concepts mean. Since exams often count more than tests, this in an opportunity to improve semester grades.