Test Taking Strategies

Do you know how to study?  
Most middle school students struggle with this so you are not alone if you find this hard. 
I wish I had a magic formula that instantly gives every student the perfect study method. 
However, one of the best "side effects" of going through school is learning how to learn, and this journey is NOT the same for everyone.  

Here are some tips to help you discover what works for you...

#1 Complete Daily Work
It is hard to avoid work in class/home and then expect to do well on the assessment.
This also helps to earn points for the final grade. 
#2 Participate in class
Answering questions in class and getting involved in discussions helps with the retention of the material.
For those that prefer not to speak in class, answer questions mentally instead of sitting there waiting for someone else to respond. 
#3 Organization
Make sure you are using your assignment book and organizing your papers.
It is hard to study when you don't have anything to study from.
See Mr. P during Advisory if you need Folder Surgery.
#4 Read and Reread
Nonfiction reading can be more difficult than flying through a novel.
Sometimes it takes a second or third reading of the material to grasp it.
THINKING about the concepts and FOCUSING on the important terms helps as well. 
#5 Flash Cards
Test yourself or have someone quiz you.
Use index cards or try Quizlet with adult supervision.
Note: the ones posted on this site do not cover every concept on the test. 
#6 Take Notes
Sometimes just writing down the information helps to remember it.
We used
   * Cornell Notes: Chapter 4 with Cells and Heredity.
   * Charts: Parts of a cell (we also took notes in different locations in our school analogy)
   * SQ3R: Chapter 1 in Bacteria to Plants 
   * Close Notes (fill-in-the-blanks): many sections
   * Outlining: Chapter 3 in Bacteria to Plants
   * Drawing: creating visuals to help remember concepts
   * In your own words: rewrite definitions and explanations
#7 Advisory
See teachers for extra help during advisory.
This is also a great time to reread and study.
#8 Avoid Cramming
Study a little every night or during advisory when you have less work to complete.
Trying to memorize a lot of material the night before might get you through a test/quiz but will you remember it after that?
Focusing on a smaller set of information can be less overwhelming.
#9 Location, Location, Location
Where do you complete homework and study?
Some students need peace and quiet, others prefer calm music or a busy kitchen with noise.
Try the Sound Sleeping tool for relaxing sounds.
Find your happy place by experimenting with different areas and the time of day to find what works best for YOU.
Yes, you might have to put down the iPad and turn off the TV.  

#10 Outside Resources: Be a Self-Directed Learner
Still confused?  Missed something in class?  Want more information?
The internet has an incredible amount of resources that might provide you with simpler explanations, videos, and extensions beyond what we go over.
Reliable animations like Brain Pop can be helpful with understanding complex concepts. 
Khan Academy is another great resource.
Be careful with Youtube! Make sure you are on reliable sites (remember the tree octopus). 
You could probably find a ton of websites and videos about HOW TO STUDY. 
Check out the ONLINE TEXT. 
Don't forget about those old fashion things in the library called B.O.O.K.S
#11 Be Efficient
Many families have busy schedules.

Find yourself in the car a lot going to practices? 
Have to wait for your brother to finish a music lesson after school? 
Extra time in advisory?

Use those times to review material. 

If you are overbooked with activities outside of school and can't keep up with your studies, you might have to think about what you want to focus on. 
#12 Review
When we have a Review Day (such as Science Jeopardy), it is a very good idea to reflect the entire period.
Attempt to answer every question, even when it is not your group's turn.
Most of the test questions from the game appear on the test is some form.
Feel free to write down a term/concept if you are unfamiliar or make a mental note to study that later. 
#13 Positive Attitude
At the top it says "Don't know how to study?"
How about "I don't want to study"?
Not many people would choose studying over a lot of other after school activities. 
You are perfectly sane if you don't like to study. You may not like to eat fruits and vegetables, brush your teeth, or go to bed at a reasonable hour either, but they are very important to your health.
Look for fun ways to study and avoid waiting to the last minute when it is more stressful.  
#14 Reminders about Study Guides & Flashcards
It is a good idea to focus on the study guide in the packet.
The flashcards will help with a lot of the terms.  
However, neither will cover 100% of the material on the test.

Observe the content on study guides as you will not always get a study guide in your future classes.

#15 With great power comes great responsibility
The number one thing that middle schoolers like compared to elementary is the FREEDOM.
Conestoga students say the same thing about entering high school: even MORE freedom.
However, it also comes with a lot more responsibility, too.
Concepts get harder and just sitting in class is probably not enough to absorb everything you need to know.
#16 Don't Panic! It's just a test.
It is important to always try your best, but keep in mind that no college is going to look at your middle school grades.
You will be fine if you get a grade that is lower than expected as long as you learn from it and strive to improve next time.
REFLECT on how you prepared. Continue doing what works and change what does not.

Rome was not built in a day and discovering what study methods work for you won't happen overnight either.