Can you smell summer yet?
I can guarantee that if you are in Education, you have been smelling summer since Spring Break.
Your students can smell it too. They are obsessed with getting out of the confines of classroom walls and really live.....and by really live, I mean waste hours upon hours on their coach with their phones or in front of their latest gaming system (at least that's what I used to do with my N64).
There is only one things standing if everyone's way...
I remember being surprised at how many of my students did not know how to study for exams. After doing a quick survey, I found that most of the students were cramming an hour or two the night before.
That was it!
If your students are going to go down that road, it will not work. Your brain will not store all of the information correctly that quickly. Unless your student has photographic memory (and trust me, there are some that do and they will let you know it!), they will do poorly on the exam if they only study for 1-2 hours.
Your students need your help.
Here are some things that you can tell your students to do to prepare for exams.
Exam study tips for students
1. Start studying weeks in advance. When we sleep, our brains organize information. The more REM periods of sleep we have between studying and the test, the easier it will be to recall the information (given that we reinforce the neuropathways by reintroducing ourselves to the information daily).
Have you ever practiced hard at something one day with no success and then come back the next day and kill it on the first try?
This science was made ridiculously clear to me when I played drums for church. I remember at practice on Friday nights not being able to get certain rhythms down that my music director wanted me to hit. Then I would come back on Sunday and nail it.
That is due to the brains amazing way of organizing information in your sleep!
2. Choose study buddies. Happiness leads us to success, not the other way around (thanks Sean Achor). It seems like it would be counterintuitive to study with friends, but since social interaction is one of the most powerful forces behind happiness, it is imperative to study with people.
However, you must choose wisely. I remember talking with two students who took my advice and studied with a group of three. The third person ended up distracting the group instead of contributing, and they all suffered on the exam. Tell your students to choose people who is as dedicated as they are.
3. Push a 3-4 hour study session the night before. Meet your group at a designated place (preferably distraction free) and study for 30 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. Do this for about 3-4 hours. This is a fair price to pay for a stress free exam. Be sure to give yourself rest. Reward yourselves for good study sessions by saying things like "If we study for 20 minutes, then we can grab a snack."
Avoid time sucks during break time. Video games and Facebook are fun. However, be aware of their power to suck time.
4. Offer to teach the group. One of the best ways to learn something is to put it into your own words. If you want to really learn the material, offer to teach the group what you know or quiz them from the book. This not only helps the group by having a leader, but will help you process the information, verbalize it, and retain it.
5. Get a good night sleep before hand and eat a good breakfast. You don't want to take an exam on an empty stomach. Blood sugar levels affect your ability to think clearly and recall information. Shoot for complex carbs instead of a snickers bar. Read more about that here.
Also, get a good 8 hours of sleep the night before.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to actually take a class and teach these materials to your students. Don't assume they know how to study. Even if they have learned some of this before, it is always good to reinforce.
And remember teachers, the better your students do on the exam, the less painful it will be to grade them! ;)
What would you add to the list? How do you tell your students to study?