It’s Exam Time for Middle School

Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

Last week, Ms. McNeil and Dr. Andrews worked with 6th grade children on exam preparation. In part, we used recommendations from two EDS Alumni, Nicole A. and Daniel N. Here are some notes they developed for a presentation to 6th graders last year.

Please ask your child about his or her plan; we made a big deal about the correlation we’ve observed between a more detailed plan and exam success. “I’ll organize” or I’ll study every day” are not enough, and we gave students an opportunity to revise their initial plans at the end of class.

We suggested that students:

Organize this weekend: Students should gather needed papers for each subject and place the sets in five separate pocket folders (five different colors is great, but not necessary). They will need old tests and quizzes and in some cases, class/lab notes. This is a good time to write down any missing tests or quizzes or notes that look a bit sketchy; they can get help filling in any gaps next week. (For some, this may involve a good deal of sorting first, and I will be available for the next two days at recess to help with that process.)

When teachers hand out/post the study guides for each exam, a copy should go into the folder. We also recommend that each folder gets its own pencil and highlighter, some notecards (may also be color coded), and a few sheets of blank notebook paper.

Begin studying: In addition to homework next week, it’s a good idea to study for two exams a night (about 15 minutes each this week; a little longer the following week), and for all of them (in small chunks of time with breaks in between) on the weekend. We talked about what that study looks like, depending on the subject, and suggested they do something with the material rather than just look it over. They might copy notes, highlight main ideas, make note cards and arrange them on the floor in a giant outline, make flash cards, quiz themselves, and so on.

Ms. McNeil referenced an upcoming science unit on the brain (in February) to add extra tips for alertness and memory, such as use of scent, or studying something right before bed in order for it to lodge in long term memory while one sleeps. The students had some good ideas as well.

Individual teachers already have or will be talking about how to study for specific exams. We talked a bit about stress: some is necessary and a good thing for top performance, but too much is unhealthy and unnecessary—and in some cases, detrimental to performance. You will know if your child needs to be a little more or less stressed; it’s all about his or her wiring!

On Friday, MS students get to dress up for Lessons and Carols and our special MS Christmas Brunch. We also enjoy a service project with our Panther Pals.

Here are Daniel and Nicole’s 12 Tips for Exam Success:

1. Organize everything: One binder for each exam or each day of exams; or color-code folders for each exam
Find all tests, quizzes, notes, study guides. Mark important pages in texts (such as vocabulary) with flags.

2. Once you have everything organized, make sure you have everything you need; if you are missing something, now is the time to get it. Also, if you know there are concepts you do not understand, now is the time to ask.

3. Start studying tonight (Monday); pick your first two exams and after homework tonight, study those for 15-20 minutes each.

4. Study in chunks: 15-20 minutes, then take a short break–exercise of some kind is best. Keep hydrated and have snacks as you study. You can’t study well if you are hungry.

5. Study for two subjects at a time all week long; on the Monday before exams, just study for the two the next day.

6. Grammar and math—you just need to DO problems or work on sentences in order to study.

7. Quiz yourself as a way to study.

8. Quizlet for Geography; use this or the online texts for other classes also; Make flash cards.

9. Bring good snacks and water for the break on exam days; get plenty of sleep.

10. Don’t freak if the exam looks really long…just gives you more problems so it’s okay that you get some wrong.

11. Bring materials to study for the next exam or if the last exam, a book to read.

12. Good study over time is what you need. You will do well if you put in the effort.

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