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Alternative Study Guides

Does your child seem to put hours into studying for a test, but the end result is a not so good grade on the test? Typical scenario: student is given a study guide, they look up the answers to the questions, and then spend time reading what they wrote down. While, this may help with some tests, and some students, it doesn’t always get results. Often times, students put hours of time in studying, but the way they are studying is ineffective.  Schools expect children to do well on tests, yet they never explicitly teach them how to study. Therefore, students think that passively studying for hours on end will result in a good grade on their test. For some, and for a while, this may work. But when they come to a subject that requires more active studying, they are at a loss because the hours they have spent “looking over their notes” amounts to a bad grade on the test. Students then become frustrated, understandably, because they feel they have adequately prepared for the test.  However, studying must be an ACTIVE endeavor. Therefore, just answering the study guide questions and reading the notes is NOT going to get results. Instead students need to think of creative ways to study. Here are some suggestions. When studying for a test that involves a lot of vocabulary words, find or draw pictures to go with each definition. Flash cards can work, if the student writes them out themselves and uses them to actively quiz themselves. However, if they find they are stuck on a few (or a lot) then they must come up with an alternative. Writing a story incorporating the key points they are studying is a great alternative.  Another alternative study guide is to “map” out all the points. Research has shown that if we associate something with a location, we can remember it better. Visualizing is key. Use a map of their house, room, neighborhood assign different locations on the map a key word, concept of definition. If your child is stuck and the typical study guides don’t seem to be helping, have them try an alternative.