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Study and test-taking strategies for kids with learning difficulties

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Strategies for self-monitoring

For all students, an important part of studying is becoming aware of their most common mistakes, so they can try to avoid making the same errors on the next test. To help your child become more strategic while studying, you can:

  • Ask him to look through his graded homework assignments and previous tests to find any patterns of mistakes.
  • Help your child to make a personalized checklist of test-taking techniques to remember while taking the test, such as remembering to look back to make sure he didn't miss any questions or remembering to answer all parts of the questions. Checklists can be subject-specific as well. The following is a sample personalized checklist for a math test:

Math test checklist

a. Did I copy the problems correctly?
b. Did I remember to label my answers?
c. Did I use the right operation?
d. Did I check my answers to see if they make sense?

Making a study plan and sticking to it

The following suggestions may be helpful when your child is studying for tests in content areas such as history or science. Encourage your child to:

  • Assemble all relevant materials before he begins, namely, textbooks, class notes, homework, and old quizzes.
  • Make strategy cards for important concepts or terms by listing the term on the front of the card. On the back of the card, your child can list the key information and a memory strategy.
  • Review class notes, homework, and quizzes, highlighting important information.
  • Make a chart of the important events and note their causes and consequences.
  • Predict possible essay questions and jot down notes for answering each question.
  • Explain the main ideas of the chapter to a parent or friend.
  • Have friend or parent quiz him.
  • Make a timeline of important events in the chapter.
  • Answer questions at the ends of the chapters.

Goal setting and self-pacing

Does your child rush through his study sessions? If so, you can teach your child to set goals and to pace himself. Here are some steps to take:

  • Review his study plan and set a timer for a certain study period according to the plan.
  • Make sure he builds short breaks into his study schedule. Shorter blocks of work time (e.g., 30-45 minutes) are often more productive than two-hour time blocks. For example, your child might try working for 30-45 minutes, then taking a 15-minute break, and resuming work again for 30-45 minutes.
  • Discuss a goal for studying. What does he want to master and how well does he want to do on the homework or the test?
  • Suggest that you will quiz him on the material when he thinks he is ready to make sure that he knows the information.

Research Institute for Learning & Development Colleagues

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

11/28/2011:
"Good Afternoon, The information is very freshing and informative and will help facilitate my learning and understanding when working with students that have learning disabilities. Thank You, Donavin White "
09/24/2010:
"I have a Daughter who is now in 11th grade.I find this information very useful for my daughter. I really need some help, when she studies and go into a test she is very blank and can not remember what she had studied. I know i am late but its never too late becasue now i am worried about her when she will go in to colledge and i want her to do good. Is their classes or online course she can do to help her test skills. Can you please give me your advice, when this happen to her she does not do well and my tests. "
09/24/2010:
"'I have a daughter who is in 11th grad, but i find this information very useful for my daughter. She really need some help, when she study and go into a test she is very blank and can not remember what she had studied. Her test taking strategies were always bad, but now she is in 11th grade and i am worried what will happen to her in colledge. I know I am late but it never too late. Can you please give me your advice, when this happen to her, she do not do well and my tests. "
07/19/2010:
"Most students are unable to link knowledge and skills gained in schooling,in the actual classroom situation.And i acknowledge the valuable assistance of your program...thank you."
04/15/2010:
"needs improvement but great"
04/15/2010:
"i think this is a gerat resouce for childern teens and adults and etc for homeork exams and more"
02/2/2010:
"i thought this was good article because all people can work and do things .But some people have different ways of learning and work "
01/6/2010:
"it is effective but needs improvement"
11/19/2009:
"I found this to be a very resourceful site! Being a special ed teacher, I have many students who need these strategies. I have even suggested many of my parents to view this site. Thanks!"
09/10/2009:
"I have found this article to be very helpful and I plan to give it a try. Thanks!"
06/8/2009:
"I do not have a child, but I find this information very useful for myself. I really need some help, when I study and go into a test I am very blank and can not remember what I had studied. I am now in college doing my pre-requsite courses. Can you please give me your advice, when this happen to me I do not do well and my tests."
10/1/2008:
" great!i find it very useful ! do you have any sample test about study habits and learning attitudes of students that i could use/ reference to my thesis? tnx"
03/5/2008:
"Conserning multiple choice questions. The fact remains that a large number of student have problems trying to figure out the right answer. Where by most of it is by guess work. How do we help students to avoid these during exams, especially when dealing with students with learning disabilities?"
02/19/2008:
"This was great-however I am at the point where I need more specifics on how to retain memorized facts that seems to slip away the next morning after studying."
02/4/2008:
"this was very useful. thanks."
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