The importance of preparing for exams and how to do so


From the desk of Jessica Mize, ACE Coordinator:

Here at the Brook Hill School, part of our job as educators includes preparing our students for as much of college life as possible. One element of this preparation includes semester exams. Students also have the job to make sure they formulate their own study schedules with the abundant information online on places like prep books on ExamGenius and others.

Brook Hill has an intentional system in place beginning in the 6th grade to help students build and grow in regards to semester exams. Each year, they are challenged a bit more than the previous year so that, by the time they are seniors, they are more than prepared for the type of exams given on the college level. Part of this preparation not only includes the stamina and strategies used to take the test but also how to prepare for the test.

My job in the Academic Center for Excellence includes teaching the skills needed for successful exam preparation and execution. On Thursday, I took the 6th grade students through a workshop titled, “All About That Test…No Worries.” I went over the elements specific to Brook Hill’s semester exam protocol before teaching the students the two layers involved in preparing for a semester exam.

After we discussed the basic information about their semester exams such as time limit, schedule and the weight of the exam, I began teaching the students the first part of exam preparation: before the exam. We went over the importance of the review, understanding the format of the test, knowing which major concepts are predominating on the test and asking questions. I also warned the students of the dangers of waiting until the night before to begin preparing for their exam. We discussed how to create a time table for studying several days in advance of their exam. I gave them examples of powerful mnemonic devices and introduced them to the power of association.

One of their favorite tips was doing something, like sucking on a particular flavor of mint while they are studying, and then consuming that same type of mint during the test (with the advanced permission from their teacher, of course!) Our brains associate what we are doing when we study to the material, thus making it easier to recall information if we are able to replicate that behavior.

Next, we moved on to the strategies for exam day, right before and during the test. They learned the importance of reading the whole test question, not assuming what it is asking, and being sure to note if the question is asking for more than one answer. I also taught them not to stay stuck on a problem, but to move on and they might come across something later in the test that will help jog their memory. And, I also encouraged them to do the easiest problems first.

Overall, the workshop was extremely enlightening for the 6th grade students since this is their first go-round with semester exams. My hope is that with each set of exams, the students become more and more confident in their study skills and their test taking skills. I love this part of my job because it allows me to teach skills and strategies to help support academic success both now and in the future.

A link to the presentation can be found here.