The holidays are normally a time of good cheer, celebration, and family. However, for hard-working students, they can also be a time of anxiety and dread. After all, before and after the winter break come mid-term or mock exams, and even the best students will approach this time with trepidation. Help make everyone’s holiday a little brighter with these eight tips for stress-free test preparation.
- Collaborative revision packet
No doubt you have heard of the revision packet. This test preparation classic is often overlooked because it’s seen as dry and daunting. The truth is, while it may not be fun to put together, it can be a life raft for overwhelmed students. Relieve yourself of much of the work by getting your students to compile it with your guidance. In this way, they obtain the map they need while also participating in a functional revision activity. Using tools like the Kognity Table of content can help your students plan what needs to be included.
- Mock Exam revision groups
Ideally, every time your students take an exam or test, they will review it afterwards. However, even if this is not part of your normal routine, now is a great time to dredge up old tests and review incorrect answers. As students do this, get them to highlight elements in the revision packet that need the most attention. While the revision packet will help them understand the essential material for the test, this activity will help them identify what they need to spend the most time on. In this way, revision can be differentiated to meet individual needs.
- Practice exams
Practice exams are a must. They give students a taste of what the exam might be like, including content and question types. This can do wonders for their stress levels. A big part of test anxiety comes from the unknown. Written Answer Practice questions are a great way for students to take practice exam questions which allows your students to “experience” the exam in a stress-free way.
- Study schedule
Arguably the biggest hurdle between students and successful, stress-free mock exam preparation is procrastination. Students don’t always do this on purpose, either. With the competing demands of various subjects, extra-curricular activities, jobs, chores, and more, they have a lot on their plates. It can be easy to put off something until the very last minute. Help them develop a steady schedule that does not place too many demands on any one day and then to customise the schedule to make extra time for those areas in which they need the most help.
- Let students become the teachers
Sometimes the best way to memorise information is to teach it to someone else. Give your students an opportunity to be teachers, guiding classmates through relevant material while in effect revising it themselves. This can be done through collaborative revision. Each student can become an “expert” in an area in which they struggled in a practice test. They can then teach the rest of their group what the correct answers are and why.
- Encourage students to become creative
It can sometimes be easier to tackle complex ideas or memorise important facts when you inject some creativity into it. Students can write songs or poems to help them remember names, dates, and more. They can draw pictures to represent ideas relating to complex moments in history. They can even write letters from the perspectives of historical figures. Find ways to engage multiple intelligences and help your students have fun while they study.
- Play a game
Nothing motivates students to revise like a little competition. Revision games are fun ways to practise memorised facts, maths skills, grammar skills, and more. You can even engage your students further by requiring them to come up with questions or problems for the revision games. Why not set them a Strength Battle challenge or run a Strength Battle tournament using the Kognity Practice centre. In this way, they can practise while you gain some insight into what they consider to be important in the material.
- Hold a debate
Develop some broad debate questions centred on themes in your literature books, events in history, or topics discussed in science class. Then ask your students to prepare positions based on those questions. If these positions are properly supported, this will involve a substantial amount of review and synthesis of the material. You might be surprised how passionately students can get involved in a school project when they know they’ll have a chance to argue.
Not all of these strategies are going to be equally effective. As you find new ways to help your students revision material, pay attention to their needs and help them learn how they study best.
How do you prepare your students for exams? Let us know in the comments below.
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Author: Abigail Bryant
Abi is Head of Support at Kognity, where she works closely with teachers and students getting them set up and ensuring their experience with Kognity is a great one. Previously she worked as an English teacher working with International Schools in South East Asia.