Leslie Josel is the Principal of Order Out of Chaos, an organizing consulting firm specializing in student organizing. She is the author of several books, including the recently published How to Do It Now…Because It’s Not Going Away, as well as the creator of the award-winning Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management.
Getting organized to study for final exams is sometimes more difficult than the actual studying part. I work with students all day long helping them build their study skill set and it can be quite overwhelming. While there are too many options to include in this short column, especially since I don’t know how your son studies best, here are a few of my general study tips.
- Before he sits down to “just study,” your child needs to figure out exactly what topics to study. Sounds simple, right? Not so. You’d be surprised how many students don’t know their upcoming test dates or subject matter topics. And here’s where they need to get specific. It’s not enough to say, “My test is on the U.S. government.” They need to know what aspects of government the test will cover.
- I have my students write down their topics on paper. This is the first step to creating an effective study plan. I use this as a jumping-off point to break down the studying into manageable parts, assign study dates, and even gather previous tests and homework on these topics. A useful tool to help with this part of the process is a color-coded board.
- Once your son has figured out exactly what he needs to know, it’s time to assign specific study times to get the work done. Work backward from the test date and allot specific time slots for the work. Always build in extra padding in case the unexpected rears its ugly head.
- Finally, here are a few hacks to help your child remember what he’s studying:
- Walk before an exam. Movement helps lay down learning.
- Shout it out. You remember more if you say it aloud than if you’re simply reading.
- Teach it. The best way to really understand something is to explain it to someone else.
- Block Out Distractions. Shut down websites and the phone.
- Study in Priority Order. Spend the majority of time on information you don’t know.
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