Study Tips for a New School Year
As the new school year picks up steam, with it comes a blank slate. While studying may not be high on the list of your child’s favorite things to do, knowing helpful tricks to ace an exam might sway their opinion. Tamara Hodges, a Central Arkansas Christian Schools middle school English teacher, shares her tips on the best study practices for students.
Little Rock Family: What study strategies have you seen work best in your years of teaching?
Tamara Hodges: In my years of teaching as a middle school English teacher one thing that has seemed to help students learn the needed information is to make flash cards for things like vocabulary work or grammar concepts.
Also some of my students have success with typing their vocabulary words along with the definitions on their computers. Many students type this up then print it off and work through it like a practice sheet. Repetition of any kind with the words/work gives improved results.
LRF: What study skills do you teach or suggest in your classroom?
TH:My students are required to read books from various genres throughout the year for various book projects and AR (basic comprehension) tests. For students that struggle with comprehending as they read or with remembering key points of the book by the time they finish reading the book, I encourage them to stop at the end of each chapter and write down the key points (characters involved along with a main thing that happened in the chapter)of that chapter on a post-it note and just leave it stuck to the page.
Upon completion of the book, I tell students to read back over their notes to remind themselves of those key points before taking their AR test. I've never had a student fail an AR test when they followed this procedure.
I had a student who struggled to ever pass an AR test. I suggested that he try this when he and his mom told me they were skeptical since nothing they had ever tried seemed to help him pass the tests. He followed the plan, jotted notes at the end of each chapter, read over them before taking the test and from that point on, he never failed another test.
LRF: What behaviors in class seem to lead to better test scores?
TH: I recommend as much repetition with the material as possible. I show my students websites like Quia and Quizlet that can also help them learn in a fun, repetitive way. We play a variety of review games in class like Jeopardy.
Students who sit closer to the front of the room and engage in discussions or volunteer to answer questions generally are more successful with the class material. Plus we talk constantly about the importance of doing our best.
LRF: Before an exam what are your usual words of wisdom about studying?
TH: I encourage my students to write everything down in their planners as a means to stay organized and know what's coming up that week as far as assignments, and times for quizzes and tests. Middle school students tend to think they can quickly look over the material for a test once, generally the night before the test which usually doesn't work.
I constantly remind them to look over/study the material at least three nights before the test. If a student does not score what he wanted on a test or feel like he could've done better, I always ask if he feels like the grade reflects his very best. If he says no then we conference about his efforts before that test and discuss what he could do differently before the next test. I then touch base a few days before the next test to see what prep work he's doing or is planning to do to raise his next grade.