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Study Gradually, Starting NOW, To Be Ready For Final Exams

Many otherwise good students didn't do as well as they had hoped on their midterm exams. They couldn't remember the quantities of material, or they couldn't pull isolated facts and procedures together and use them in a coordinated way.

What's the point of working so hard to learn, a student may wonder, if the material is just going to fall out of my head? 

The brain holds onto information which it has used actively and repeatedly. Research shows that the way to get information to stick in long-term memory is to keep quizzing yourself, using flash cards and practice tests.

Try these study strategies to hold on to what you learn and be ready for final exams in May or June:

Study a bit every day. Cramming might get you through a test, but what you "learned" will then quickly fall away, leaving you to study the very same stuff all over again before the final exam. You should be studying all along, by taking some time every day to rework a few math problems from old tests or homework, rewrite a paragraph from an essay that was returned to you, flip a few flashcards from a previous chapter, etc.

Study the same way you'll be tested. Rereading notes and highlighting aren't great study strategies, because on the test you'll need to retrieve and apply the material, not just read it. Study by using flash cards, working math problems on paper, and writing short answers and paragraphs, because these methods are similar to what you'll need to do on exam day.
Strive to understand. Your brain is very practical, and it doesn't hold on to material it doesn't understand (because what good is that?) So, make sure you take the time to understand what you are learning; this is hard at first when you know very little, but it makes learning easier and easier as you become more knowledgeable.

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Exam Tip: Make the Cheat Sheet You Wish You Could Use

Teachers often allow students to bring "cheat sheets" to exams.

A cheat sheet is an index card or single sheet of paper which the student can fill with all the facts and formulas she needs to know but is afraid she doesn't have by heart. (When given only a 3x5 space to fill, many kids can achieve some truly amazing, near-microscopic handwriting).

Even if you can't actually bring a cheat sheet to the exam,...
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3 More Tips to Feel Ready for Midterm Exams

Big exams can seem overwhelming, but there's plenty you can do to get ready.

Here are three more tips (I posted the first three here); pick and choose or try them all!

Tackle the easy stuff first. Cover the material you know pretty well and then cross it off your list. Start by going through your old tests and quizzes and reworking all the easy problems. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and progress, which will lift your spirits.
Let parents help. During stressful times, support from other people can be invaluable. Let your parents remind you to study every day, allow them to clear the family calendar of non-academic events, and let them quiz you, bring you tea or just keep you company.
Study alone, then with pals. Don't arrive at a group study session unprepared and clueless. Study alone first so you come equipped with a list of questions plus some knowledge to contribute.

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Emotions and Feelings

3 Tips to Reduce Midterm Exam Anxiety

Big exams make just about everyone feel anxious.

Here are three tips that can help make exam season go smoothly:

Get started now. Anxiety builds as you worry and do nothing. It may feel very difficult to get started, but you will feel immediate relief once you do.
Begin reviewing now. You need not wait until teachers hand out review guides. Get out your old tests and quizzes and begin reworking them. (Don't merely reread the questions and answers; you need to cover up your old answers and actually rework each problem on paper).
Do an overview. Use your notes and/or textbook to write a list of the topics you'll need to know. Making this outline will give you a feeling of control and a realistic sense of the task ahead.

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Tests Are Valuable Learning Tools

When students get a test back, they typically glance at the grade and then stuff the test in their backpack, never to think about it again (unless, of course, the test has a refrigerator-worthy high score).

Meanwhile, teachers invest time and effort making careful corrections and thoughtful comments. This feedback is meant to help kids learn and improve. Reviewing test results with students and helping kids digest the information is an important part of what we tutors do, and parents can do the same.
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Closing In On “Close Reading”

If you haven't heard this latest buzz phrase, you will soon. Standardized tests and schools alike are shifting their focus towards cultivating not just more reading, but reading that is deep, thoughtful, purposeful...close reading.

This is good news, because close reading is one of the skills that well-prepared, informed, mentally active and employable adults need in order to thrive in our increasingly complex and sophisticated world.
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