Over the next two to three weeks high school students are preparing for final exams. Students are busy and this time of the school year can be one of high anxiety. If you are a student, or a parent that wants to support your child, here are some suggestions for this last week or two.
Since there is little time before students write their exams, it is best to do an inventory of what you know and what you need to focus your study time on. When performing this inventory think about the following, i) what did your teacher emphasize throughout the semester (teachers often give insight into what is most important to know and understand, and many teachers prepare inventories for their students to use for study), ii) create your inventory in list form and rank what you know best through to what you know least.
Obviously you want to spend more time on the areas of need. If this is a struggle, go to our learning modules and use the Total Recall and Test Time practices to determine which areas of your course you should focus on. Here are two examples:
Try the following Biology 30 Test Time example. It concerns the Endocrine System. Test Time: Endocrine System
Try the following Social Studies 30 Test Time example. It concerns the causes of the French Revolution. Test Time: The Cold War
Next, a reminder that self-testing and practicing retrieval learning are two of the most powerful learning tools available for students to prepare for exams (Roediger et al. 2011). The use of flashcards, for instance, is a powerful self-testing device for learning. Questions, terms, phrases should be written on one side of a card and the answers, definitions, or explanation on the other side. Remember this, however, you can't look at the answers before trying to recall the answers from memory. For self-testing to work you must first attempt to recall from memory, then look at the answer to check your knowledge.
Incidently, our learning modules include flashcards. Try this example set of flashcards for Biology 30:
Try the following sample set of Biology 30 Flashcards
Another, research-based, method of studying is to mix up the study of your subjects. That is, don't study only one subject for lengthy periods and then move onto the next. Instead, mix up your study between subjects and study each for a shorter time. Study one subject for a few minutes, then move onto another, then another, eventually returning to the original. Researchers and educators call this method of study interleaving or mixed or varied practice. So, using the example of flashcards again, a student can practice flashcards for one subject for a short period of time, then switch to another, and so on.
Interleaving practice also includes asking yourself different forms of questions about the same topic. Interleaving practice is built into our learning modules. With each practice, a student will experience several different styles of questions, and a student can select to interleave practice tests or flashcards from different parts of the class. Here is an example of a practice test from Biology 20 (note the different form of questions):
Try the following sample practice test from Biology 20: Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration
So if you are a high school student preparing for finals these next few weeks, or a parent of a student wanting to provide some support, we hope these suggestions help with the learning. If you would like to use our learning modules which apply these principles of learning, please go to https://www.kctlearning.ca/shop and select your learning module(s). And until the end of January use promo code TESTPREP at checkout to receive a 20% savings off our regular pricing.
Roediger, Henry & Putnam, Adam & Sumeracki, Megan. (2011). Ten Benefits of Testing and Their Applications to Educational Practice. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 55:1-36.