The Lifecycle of a Test

Using EF Strategies to Beat the Odds

ElanaThe following blog post was written by Elana Snow Ed.M. for the SMARTS Online blog and posted (in a slightly varied form) on March 1, 2016.

Mark, a student facing a very common problem, comes home to his parents brandishing a red “C” on the top of his test, feeling devastated, frustrated, and hopeless. He tells his parents that he always studies really hard. Yet, again and again, he has little to show for it. Each time he thinks he’ll do well, but when he struggles to get the A or the B, he is shocked.

Mark is like many of the students we see at ILD and ResearchILD. When asking these students what ‘studying hard’ means to them, they may answer: “Well, I went through the review packet my teacher gave me. It took me a really long time.” But what these students do not understand, because it is rarely taught in school,  is that simply filling out a packet or reviewing class notes is just the first step. By itself, a review of the material on the test is not an explicit study strategy.

Luckily, we have developed some concrete strategies that can truly help students move past the passive “study strategies” with which they have become comfortable. Since test preparation and test-taking have become such challenges for so many students, we have made them the topic of our presentation at this year’s 31st annual Learning Differences Conference. On Friday, March, 11, Michael Greschler, Ed.M, Wendy Stacey, M.S. and I will be reviewing the life-cycle of a test and addressing some explicit strategies students can use to help them maximize their studying efficiency and recall throughout the process. Specifically, we will help attendees learn to teach their students to:

  • Plan: If it’s a big test, waiting until the night before is not a good strategy. How can teachers/parents help their students to look ahead and create a reasonable study plan that breaks up the studying across multiple days?
  • Prioritize: Students waste a lot of time studying the information they
    Tool: Students can create a tool with various images or memory strategies, like the Triple-Note-Tote, to help them with information recall.
    Create a Study Tool: Students can create a tool with various images or memory strategies, like the Triple-Note-Tote, to help them with information recall.

    already know. How can teachers/parents help their students determine which information is the most important to focus on?

  • Create a study tool: Creating their OWN study guide with priority information and remembering strategies will enable students to truly recall the information they study. What are some proven study tools that can aid in this step of the process?
  • Quiz themselves: This is a tried and true part of the process. What are some ways students can effectively quiz themselves?
  • Analyze previous errors in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future: Looking for patterns of errors in previous tests can help students avoid those same errors again. What are some strategies for analyzing and recording errors so that students can effectively remember and avoid them?

Looking to find answers to these questions? Join us for the presentation! ResearchILD’s Learning Differences Conference is held yearly at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and it is a fantastic way for teachers, administrators and parents to learn both about the science behind and concrete approaches to helping children with learning differences. If you’re interested in attending or learning more, check out our conference website *Mark’s name has been changed. But if you have a child or a student, like Mark, who feels endlessly frustrated with fruitless studying strategies, consider coming to our session!

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