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Essential Skills

Study Skills

Objective: While much of your learning will occur in the classroom, a good student recognizes the importance of studying outside of the classroom to process information and prepare for specific types of assessments. Students should rely on developing good everyday habits for note taking and paying attention in class as this will make preparing for assessments substantially easier. There are specific techniques that can help students to prepare for different types of assessments.

  • Orient Yourself:  What type of assessment is being given?

    1. Time: Is this an in-class or out of class assessment? (What are the time restraints for producing the work that will be turned in)

    2. Content: What are the parameters for the content of the assessment? (Unit test, cumulative over the trimester, a specific book, is outside research permitted etc.)

    3. Format: What form will the assessment take? (Is this an essay, multiple choice test, word problem quiz, presentation)

  • Think Analytically:  Assessments are designed to gage a student's understanding of the material and skills that have been taught in a given period. Lectures, discussions and activities are designed to help students understand this material and can be relied on to infer what type of question or information will be graded on a particular assessment.

    1. Review key ideas or concepts (What were the essential questions for a unit)

    2. What supporting examples were discussed (Facts or Data);

    3. How do the specific examples support the main ideas of the unit (Relevance or Analysis).

Habits for Success:

  1. Good students will manage their time effectively - avoid marathon study sessions the night before an assessment, a little bit each day will help ensure overall retention of the material and reduce stress when an assessment comes up.  

    1. Good students will keep track of their schedule that includes the dates for all upcoming assignments to ensure time for preparation and to avoid panic and stress when assessments take place.

      1. Check Canvas Regularly, not just for the next days assignment but look at least a week ahead to avoid being unprepared or surprised.

  2. Good students will rely on the good note-taking habits that they have developed to ensure they have appropriate study materials to work from when preparing for an assessment.

  3. Good students will organize notes and identify the areas where they struggle the most and focus their studying on these areas. Do not waste time rewriting notes or reviewing material that you already know.

  4. Good students will designate a specific study area that is repeatedly used only for studying, this will help to routinely get in the right mindset for focusing on studying.

    1. Good students will remove all distractions from their study area.

      1. Turn off cell phones

      2. close down unnecessary programs/windows on their computer

      3. turn off the TV etc

  5. Good students will incorporate the type of assessment into their study routine. If the assessment is completing equations then students should include performing practice equations in their studying.

Preparing for a Test:

  1. Identify the format of the test: (Make sure that you have found where your teacher has posted the following information or ask for clarification)

    1. What is the structure? (multiple choice, essay, problems solving, etc.)

    2. How much time is allowed?

    3. What material will be covered?

      1. This is not the same as asking what questions are on the test but rather what topics from what has been covered in class and the readings will be the focus.

    4. Review old tests to familiarize yourself with the format and the teacher’s style to help predict what types of questions might be asked, straight identification or compare & contrast etc.  

  2. Create a study plan:

    1. Several days in advance identify what you need to do in order to be prepared for the upcoming assignment.

      1. This might include:

        • gathering missing notes

        • rereading a specific text you didn’t do earlier

        • rereading something you found difficult

        • reviewing your notes and learning the material

    2. Assign times to do the tasks above - do not leave it all to the night before

  3. Studying:

    1. Focus your studying on the material that you expect to be covered most heavily on the test an on areas that you struggled the most in the past.

      1. Do not spend time rewriting or rereading notes on a topic that you know

    2. Review material - make sure that you are utilizing all relevant resources

      1. Notes, online resources provided by your teacher (powerpoints), readings both in class and out of class texts, key term lists, organizers etc.

    3. Practice - based on the type of questions that you expect find on the test create or find sample problems/questions to work through.

    4. Study Sessions - studying with others can be a very valuable tool, the key is to stay on task. This is an opportunity to ask each other questions, clarify content and practice answering.

  4. Day of the Test:

    1. Get a good night's sleep the night before. Staying up all night to cram is counterproductive, you might end up doing worse on the test due to exhaustion.

    2. Approach the test with a positive and confident attitude. You have done the work ahead of time so the test should not cause additional stress.

      1. Focus on what you know, if there is a question that complete stumps you, don’t dwell on it, move to the next and come back to it later.

    3. When you receive the test if there are any facts, equations etc that you are worried about forgetting, immediately write them down.

    4. Look over the entire test first before starting.

      1. This will help you organize your time to ensure you get through all of the questions.

    5. Take your time and read each questions carefully