Friday, November 26, 2010

Thoughts About Preparing for Exams

Before the Test

When do you work best? Are you a morning person, midday person, or a night person?  Don’t save studying for morning if you do not do well at that part of the day.

Don’t plan to stay up late if you are easily pulled away by others and know that you won’t stay committed.

If you have any questions regarding content of the test, ask the professor beforehand. 

Study with friends, but also plan some alone time as well.

Organize your materials and plot out a studying time line.

Study with a pen in your hand so you can make notations and reminders as needed.

TEACH yourself aloud.

At the Test

Get to the test on time with all necessary supplies.

Do not chat with the door people.  These are the ones who are failing or have taken the class before.  They will undermine all the hard work you did getting ready for the test.

Have a brief study guide to review casually.  DO NOT decide to memorize something new at this time


Write out a data dump on the test itself or a scrap paper (write down pertinent information that you do not want to forget) before you begin to answer questions. (explain to the instructor that you plan to do a data dump after the tests are passed out, and seek permission so that you do not get accused of cheating)

Preview the whole test before you begin to work.

Do a second data dump of info triggered by your test preview.
Begin with the easiest questions first.

After the Test

Analyze your mistakes to see where you went wrong.

Meet with teacher when you cannot understand why the answer was wrong.

Figure out what type of error you made.*

1.  Misreading directions errors

2.  Careless errors

3.  Concept errors

4. Application errors

5. Test-taking errors

6. Study errors

*SOURCE: Academic Success Press,Inc. Light Years Ahead in Learning, P.O. Box 2567 Dept. N., Pompano Beach, FL 33072 (305) 785-2034

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What is Metacognition and Why Does it Matter?

 Metacognition is "thinking about thinking."  As parents or educators, one of our responsibilities is to teach our children how to think.  So many times I meet college students for the first time, and when I ask them a question, they immediately turn to the parents for the answer.  Many times they do not even know why they are in my office.  These are the students who have not learned to think things through for themselves.  They follow blindly and wait to be told.  Unfortunately, when these kids get to college, there is a very good chance they are going to be lost and confused in their classes.  This transition time, when they are going to be treated as an adult and on their own, is a perfect time for a little "what if..." conversation.  When you are helping your children transition to college, let them know that they are there to lead the discussion with the Disability Advisor.  Ask your children what they can tell you about how they learn.  Help them develop a plan that includes becoming a self advocate.  Talk to them about the kinds of accommodations that they feel are important.  Some kids do not want to take a test away from the rest of the class, but if they are to have extended time on tests, then they need to discuss that issue with the advisor.  These young adults need to realize that testing arrangements will be a conversation they will have with the teacher, not you.  How will they handle it?  Perhaps testing accommodations would be a good question to take to the meeting.  Help your children come into the meetings with a plan and list of questions.  This is the first step in beginning to "think about thinking." 

I once had a student who did extremely well on a very difficult test, and when I asked him how he managed to do so well, he responded that he just pretended that he had a "little Mickie" in his pocket who was whispering information into his ear.  He was using his inner voice to talk himself through some very difficult details of the test.  He gave me the perfect definition of metacognition, and I knew he was going to be fine for the rest of his classes.  He figured out how to "think about thinking!"