Finals. If there’s one dreaded word in the vocabulary of most students, “finals” is probably it. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some easy-to-implement tips to help your child excel in those finals.
Start Early – Advice on Advance Preparation
Reading Aloud – That’s right. It’s a good idea to try reading the review material out loud rather than scanning it silently. Many children, especially auditory learners, are able to focus better and retain more information when actively using more senses (sight, sound, and voice). This can be done in tandem, too. Your child can read the material out loud, or you can read aloud and test your child on the material.
Read with a Finger – As children read questions, they’re finger should follow along with the words and numbers. When your child uses a “following finger,” it helps him or herto read more carefully and solve problems more accurately.
Use Analogies and Acronyms – Finding creative ways to remember information is both fun and effective. Analogies work really well. In preparing for a biology final, for example, you could use “mighty mitochondria” to remember that the mitochondria is the “powerhouse” or energy center of the cell.
Using acronyms is another helpful technique. Acronyms are made up of the first letters of a group of terms. For instance, if your son or daughter needs to remember the order of operations in mathematics, PEMDAS is a well-known acronym that stands for Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction.
Ask for Specific Guidance about Studying for the Final – It’s crucial for your child to have a clear understanding of what the final will cover. Some teachers offer little guidance leaving students confused. If this is the case, tell your child to have a conversation with the teacher … at a convenient time (not right before class starts). Your child might say:
“Mrs. Greenberg, can I ask you a question? I’d really like to prepare well for your final. What specific topics/pages should I focus on? Which practice questions do you recommend I work on? If you were in my shoes, how would you study for this test?”
Teachers are more than willing to help motivated students succeed. By asking these questions, your child conveys this attitude and will more likely obtain helpful tips and advice.
Time Management and Organization
Scheduling Preparation – This is essential. Studying for tests in advance is proven to be a more effective manner in terms of information retention. It’s important to be realistic about the amount of time your child needs in order to prepare. “Booking in time” means entering the specific task (i.e., “Study Unit 1 for Science Final”) in a specific time slot in a planner or cellphone calendar. Then, follow the schedule! For example, if your child has a history final in three days and needs at least five hours of study time, “book in” two hours per day for the next three days. By adding a little extra time to the schedule, you can accommodate any sudden changes that might derail your child’s study time. This scheduling builds confidence and helps your child clarify any difficult areas.
“Chunking” Study Material – Students are often overwhelmed by the large amount of material required for a final or term paper. “Chunking,” which is breaking down the material into smaller parts, works wonders. For example, a science final that covers five units can be more manageable if your child studies one unit at a time. A term paper could be broken down into researching, outlining, writing a first draft, and editing. By dividing the material into smaller tasks, your child will likely find the preparation less stressful.
Making Review Sheets – Important terms and formulas can be difficult to remember, so here’s an easy tip. Fold a piece of paper from top to bottom. The left side should be one-third of the page, and the right side should be two-thirds. Write the terms on the left side of the fold and the definitions on the right. This allows your child to review the words on one side and quickly check the answers on the other (think of this as a new twist on the old flashcard method).
The Night Before the Final
We all know that we function better with a good night’s sleep. This is also true of your child’s ability to perform at his or her peak during an exam. If your child usually gets eight hours of sleep, it’s a good idea to get an extra 30–60 minutes the night before the final. Make sure that your child packs all of the materials needed before going to bed. This may include review sheets, pencils, a calculator, etc.
Implementing these tips will help your children be more successful on their finals.
Call me at 212-706-1044 or email me if you’d like assistance or have any questions.