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Advice about Test Taking
My son has always been a bad test taker; knows his stuff,hard working...but when it comes to tests he cannot focus well enough to get good grades on them. Mostly he makes really silly mistakes that cost him points. His teachers are baffled because he knows the material well enough for homework and classwork. So, I am wondering how to help him be better prepared/focused for test taking. Since test scores are usually 50% of grade and PSAT/SAT's are coming up I really need to know strategies for him to succeed. Are there any professional people who can help w/focus issues? What have you done w/out professional help for test taking strategies? Need help
Using the SAT as an example, I'd have your son do the following:
1) Sit and take a portion of a practice test (e.g. from the official College Board book of past tests).
2) Have someone else grade it so that he knows which answers are wrong, but not what the correct answers are.
3) Retry those questions, noting in the margin anything that would be helpful on encountering a similar problem in the future.
Then, at each future study session: review all such past margin-notes and repeat steps 1-3.
Self-analysis is the core of good testing ability, and practice makes permanent. ''Careless'' mistakes are, as you note, a problem of focus. One good way to improve focus is to provide structure such as the above; then the brain has a thread to focus on. Best of luck! Wes
For us the bigger issue was being prepared, feeling confident (messing up on tests hurts your child's self esteem) and building more academic skills. We went to Phyllis Koppelman at Strategies for Learning. After just one session I had an ''AH HA'' moment. All my parental tutoring simply was not as good as a professional who knew the tricks of the trade. Additionally, we had used a young tutor before who actually use put-downs as a "motivator" (my child was NOT motivated). Phyllis is kind and develops a relationship with your child. She uses humor, praise and honest critiques. My son finally admitted to himself that while he is a good writer, writing is very hard for him and he simply must devote additional time to it. On the other hand, math is a breeze - so hurray for that. Her website is www.strategiesforlearning.com Mom of a test hater
My 17 y.o. son is having problems with math and science tests. He has had various private and commercial tutors and is currently enrolled in Sylvans study skill program. All his teachers and tutors have said that he is an exceptionally bright guy and they don't know what the problem is. He doesn't know what the problem is. He doesn't panic and has even thought he did well only to get a bad grade.Any one had this situation and have some good suggestions? This has been so frustrating for all of us.
The thing that struck me is that kids often “don’t know what they
don’t know.” The strategies to overcome this are:
• To complete all review sheets/end of chapter tests, etc. WITHOUT using notes or referring to the book.
• Flashcards for facts (shuffle them)
• Recitation—perhaps the most powerful. Tell another person about the subject and be ready to answer their questions. Could consider this as teaching someone the subject.
• Make a one page sheet of all formulas or other information needed for the test. Even if its not allowed to be taken in to the test, the fact that the child has done it is still a very powerful mental reference.
In Math and Science, the key is not in knowing the details and rules— it is in recognizing ‘where on the trail’ you are, what info you have, what you’re asked to do, and then developing a problem solving strategy—including what ‘tools’ (formulas, etc.) you’ll need to proceed. See Polya’s method on problem solving.
Kinda baffling that your son thinks he did well and then finds out that he didn’t. That would require some ‘post mortem’ and error analysis of individual tests, paying particular attention to the process –including the though process, not just the math or science stuff. Many kids want so much to do well, that they convince themselves that they actually did well, because they don’t want to think differently.
Hope this is useful to you. DS
Paul Osborne 2342 Shattuck Ave., #223 Berkeley, CA 94704-1517 301-5302 paulthetutor AT bigfoot.com
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