Evelyn Montgomery, M.Ed., CAGS, is Upper and Middle School Director at Kingsbury Day School. She shares some tips to help students with learning differences to prepare for exams.
Many schools are nearing the end of the first semester, which means exam time is approaching. If you’re the parent of a student with learning differences and/or attention difficulties, you already know that studying for exams can be particularly stressful and challenging for your teen. IEP accommodations and modifications, differentiated instruction and a range of teaching strategies no doubt assisted your child to understand the content of a unit of study. Unless he or she has properly prepared for the exam, however, panic may prevail when they are asked to demonstrate their understanding of the material.
Knowing what to study and how to study can make all the difference. Here are steps you and your teen can take to prepare for a successful exam experience.
- Limit distractions. A quiet, organized spot can encourage your child to focus.
- Collect relevant materials, such as guided notes and class notes, homework and tests/quizzes.
- Highlight important information or key facts.
- Make strategy cards for important concepts, such as vocabulary.
- Review graphic organizers.
- Help your child to make connections to other information by using sounds or visual representations of words.
- Use pictures to explain concepts.
- Take advantage of online tools or study resources. Some teachers provide lists of helpful websites and you may be able to access textbooks online.
- Encourage your child to participate in a school study group or to contact a classmate with questions about difficult concepts.
- If your child appears to be stuck on a concept, suggest that they write down their questions and email the teacher for clarity or feedback.
- If your teen isn’t exactly enthusiastic about accepting your help, ask a family member or friend to quiz your child.
- Take breaks. Shorter study intervals (study for 20 minutes; break for 10 minutes) can boost focus and willpower.
- Encourage your child to focus on his/her strengths, rather than fear of failure. Reinforce a positive attitude and resist any negative talk.
- Don’t under-estimate the value of sleep and nutrition. Your teen will feel more self-confident if healthy foods are fueling their brains and they are well-rested on the day of the exam.
- Emphasize the importance of your child’s effort and the strategies they use. Continue to tell your child, “You are trying very hard and I am so proud of you.”
With your support and encouragement, your teen will feel “prepared” rather than “panicked” when exam time rolls around.