Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to have a good exam

Very few people claim to look forward to and enjoy exams. But that doesn't have to mean you panic over them. Check out our top tips to help you get through the dreaded exam period.

8 steps to surviving exams
·     Timing: Make sure you know how much time you will have in the exam, what kind of questions you will be asked, and how many there will be. That way you can split your time between the questions to make sure they all get answered.

·      End of exam: When you're doing an exam that involves long answers - for example English, it's a good idea to leave some space at the end of the answer so you can add any additional comments or arguments that might come to mind when you reread your paper at the end of the exam.
·        Move on: Don't spend all your time on questions you know the answer to. Remember that you have to answer all the questions, and you will get a worse mark for answering some questions supremely well and some not at all.

·      Handwriting: Make sure you're writing is legible, it's worth taking a little extra time making sure your work is neat enough for the examiner to be able to read it. Try to avoid spelling mistakes too!

·      Be prepared: The more prepared you are the more likely you are to succeed.

·     Keep calm: Most importantly, DON'T PANIC! If you feel yourself getting stressed take a deep breath.

·     Exam post-mortem: Don't try to dissect the exam once you've finished it. There's no point going through what answers you put down compared to your friend. If you've put down different answers it's not going to help you in your next exam by worrying about it.

·     Move on: Once an exam is over forget about it. There is nothing more you can do about it. The best thing you can do is go home and revise for the next one.

Test-Taking Tips

Do you sweat, chew your pencil, and feel butterflies in your stomach as your teacher hands out a test? A lot of people (adults included) get freaked out when it's time to take a test.
It's natural to feel some stress about taking tests. In fact, sometimes a little adrenaline (a hormone made by your body during times of excitement or stress) is a good thing to jump-start you.
Here are some tips for taking tests:
  • First, be sure you've studied properly. It sounds like a no-brainer, but if you're sure of the information, you'll have less reason to be worried.
  • Get enough sleep the night before the test. Your memory recall will be much better if you've had enough rest. In a scientific study, people who got enough sleep before taking a math test did better than those who stayed up all night studying.
  • Listen closely to any instructions. As the teacher hands out the test, be sure you know what's expected of you.
  • Read the test through first. Once you have the test paper in front of you, read over the entire test, checking out how long it is and all the parts that you are expected to complete. This will allow you to estimate how much time you have for each section and ask the teacher any questions. If something seems unclear before you start, don't panic: ask.
  • Focus on addressing each question individually. As you take the test, if you don't know an answer, don't obsess over it. Instead, answer the best way you can or skip over the question and come back to it after you've answered other questions.
  • Relax. If you're so nervous that you blank out, you might need a mini-break. Of course you can't get up and move around in the middle of a test, but you can wiggle your fingers and toes, take four or five deep breaths, or picture yourself on a beach or some other calm place. As we all know, it can be easy to forget things we know well — like a locker combination. The difference is we know we'll remember our locker combination because we've used it hundreds of times, so we don't panic and the combination number eventually comes back. During a test, if you blank out on something and start to get tense, it suddenly becomes much more difficult to remember.
  • Finished already? Although most teachers will let you hand a test in early, it's usually a good idea to spend any extra time checking over your work. You also can add details that you may not have thought you'd have time for. On the other hand, if you have 5 minutes until the bell rings and you're still writing, wind up whatever you're working on without panicking.
These tips should help most people, but some can get serious test-taking terror. If you're one of them, you may need to talk to a parent, teacher, or counselor for help.
Good luck!

Studying for Tests

You just heard you have a math test on Friday — the same day as your big history test and weekly quiz on Spanish verbs. Are they crazy? How will you get all your studying done?
Don't panic. There are some secrets to good studying. These 5 study tips can help you take tests with confidence.

1. Start Studying in School

Studying for tests and quizzes actually starts way before you even know you'll have a test. Good study techniques begin in the classroom as you take notes. Note-taking is a way of remembering what you were taught or what you've read about.
Some keys to note-taking are to write down facts that a teacher mentions or writes on the board during class. If you miss something, ask your teacher to go over the facts with you after class.
Keep your notes organized by subject and making sure they're easy to read and review. This may mean that you need to recopy some notes at home or during a free period while the class is still fresh in your mind.
Unfortunately, most schools don't have classes that teach you how to take notes. When it comes to taking good notes, it can take some experimenting to figure out what works, so don't give up.

2. Plan Your Study Time

When you sit down to study, think about how much time you want to devote to each topic. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed.
If it's Monday, and you've got three tests on Friday, figure out how much time you need for studying between now and then. Then figure out how long each subject will take. For example, a weekly Spanish verb test probably won't be as intense as a big history test. So you won't need to set aside as much study time for the Spanish test — and if you break it up into a short amount every night, that's even better.
Another study technique is called "chunking" — breaking large topics down into chunks. Let's say you have a history test on World War II. Instead of thinking about studying all of World War II (which could overwhelm even an expert), try breaking your study sessions into 2-year chunks or studying the material by specific battles.
Most people can concentrate well for about 45 minutes. After that you'll probably want to take a short break. If you find yourself getting distracted and thinking about other things as you study, pull your attention back. Remind yourself that when your 45 minutes of studying are up, you can take a 15-minute break.

3. Study Based on the Type of Test You're Taking

Many teachers tell students ahead of time what the format of an exam will be. This can help you tailor how you study. For example, if you know you're going to have multiple-choice questions on World War II, you'll know to focus on studying facts and details. But if the exam will contain essay questions, you'll want to think about which topics are most likely to be covered. Then come up with several possible essay topics and use your notes, books, and other reference sources to figure out how you might answer questions on those topics.
As you study, review your notes and any special information from your textbook. Read things over several times if you need to, and write down any phrases or thoughts that will help you remember main ideas or concepts.
When trying to memorize dates, names, or other factual information, keep in mind that it usually takes a number of tries to remember something correctly. That's one reason why it's a good idea to start studying well in advance of a test. Use special memory triggers that the teacher may have suggested or ones that you invent yourself.
In the case of math or science problems or equations, do some practice problems. Pay special attention to anything the teacher seemed to stress in class. (This is where good note-taking comes in handy!)
Some people find it helps to teach what they're studying aloud to an imaginary student. Or work with a study partner and take turns teaching aloud. Another study technique is making flashcards that summarize some of the important facts or concepts. You can then use these to review for a test.

4. Resist the Urge to Procrastinate

It's tempting to put off studying until the last minute (also known as procrastination). Unfortunately, by the time students get to high school there's so much going on that there's usually no room for procrastination.
If you're a procrastinator (and who isn't sometimes?), one of the best ways to overcome it is by staying organized. After you've written test dates and project due dates on a calendar, it's hard to ignore them. And sitting down to organize and plan your work really highlights how much time things take. Organization makes it harder to procrastinate.
Sometimes people put off studying because they feel overwhelmed by the fact that they're behind on things or they just feel really disorganized. Don't let this happen to you. Keep your notes organized, stay on top of required readings, and follow the other study tips mentioned earlier to stay focused and in control. Your teachers will give you plenty of notice on important tests so you have enough time to study for the type of exam you'll be taking.
But what if you're feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff you have to do? Are classes or extracurricular activities limiting your time to study properly? Ask your teachers for help prioritizing. You may need to involve the people in charge of your activities — such as your coach or music or drama teacher — in working out a solution.
Don't wait until the last minute to talk to your teachers, though, or you'll just look like a procrastinator! And don't be afraid to ask for help. Teachers respect students who are thoughtful and interested in learning and doing well.

5. Start a Study Group

Sometimes it can be useful to go over things with people who are studying for the same test: You can make sure that your notes are correct and that you understand the subject. Study groups are also helpful because you can work together to come up with ways to remember concepts and then test one another.
For some people who are easily distracted, though, study groups spell disaster because they get off the topic. When you're with a bunch of friends or classmates, you may spend more time hanging out than actually studying. One way to ensure quiet and focus when studying with a group is to study in the library. You'll be forced to keep things more low-key than if you're at someone's kitchen table.
In the end, it comes down to what works best for you. If you like to study alone and feel most confident doing it that way, that's great. If you think you'd like to work in a group, try it out — just be aware of the drawbacks.

The Payoff

When you've finished studying, you should feel like you can approach the test or quiz with confidence — not necessarily that you will get 100% of the answers correct, but that you have a good understanding of the information.
Most of all, don't panic if you can't remember some facts the night before the test. Even if you've spent all evening studying, the brain needs time to digest all that information. You'll be surprised by what comes back to you after sleeping.
Reviewed by: Eric J. Gabor, JD

Worry Less in 3 Steps

Everybody worries. Grown-ups do it and kids do it, too. But what should you do about it? Whether your worries are big or small, you can take these 3 steps:
  1. Try to figure out what you're worried about.
  2. Think about ways to make the situation better.
  3. Ask for help.

1. Figure it out.

Sometimes, you will know exactly what you're worried about. Other times, you might not know exactly what's bugging you. Let's say you're worried about a teacher who seems mean. But maybe what's really bothering you is that you're having trouble with math. If you get some help with math, that teacher might seem just fine.
Some problems, like family problems, are big and have a lot of parts. That can make it tough to zero in what the problem is or to pick one part of the problem to try to solve. But being able to focus on your problem — or at least part of it — is the first step to taking action. If you're having trouble figuring out what worries you, skip to Step 3 and get some help from a parent or another person you trust.

2. Think of ways to make it better.

There is almost always something you can do to help you feel less worried. Sitting there worrying is no fun and it probably won't solve your problem. But switching to an action mode can help you feel more hopeful.
Grades at school are often a top worry for kids. If that's your concern, ask yourself these questions:
  • Why are grades important? What do they mean to me?
  • How do I prepare for class? Do I review my notes even when there isn't a test the next day?
  • Do I have a good place to do my homework?
  • Have I tried different ways of studying, such as rewriting notes, using flashcards, and working with a study buddy?
If your worry is about a fight you had with a friend, you might write down all the actions you could take — from writing the friend a note to inviting him or her over for a game of basketball. Should you apologize for whatever happened between the two of you? Once you have a list of possible actions, you can select the one you think is most likely to get your friendship back on track.
But what if you can't think of anything to do to make your particular problem better? Then it's time to jump to Step 3 (it's the next step anyway) and ask someone for help.

3. Ask for help.

Worrying can make you feel lonely. When you're worried, it can help to find someone to talk to. Sometimes people say, "Why should I bother? He/she can't do anything about it." But here are two reasons to give it a shot anyway:
  • You don't know for sure that no one can help until you share your feelings and let the person try to help.
  • Just the act of telling someone what's bothering you can make you feel a little better. Afterward, you are no longer alone with your worries and whomever you told (parent, sister, brother, friend, counselor) is now is thinking about ways to help you.

A Final Word About Worry

Did you know worry is not all bad? If you weren't worried (at least a little) about that test, you might not study for it. And if you weren't worried about getting sunburned, you might not wear your sunscreen.
But some kids worry so much that it keeps them from doing the stuff they need and want to do. If that sounds like you, you know what to do by now: Turn to good old Step 3 and ask someone for help.

6 step to smarter studying

Six Steps to Smarter Studying

How did you learn how to ride your bike? Someone probably gave you a few lessons and then you practiced a lot. You can learn how to study in much the same way. No one is born knowing how to study. You need to learn a few study skills and then practice them.
Why work on your study skills? It will make it easier for you to learn and do well in class, especially as you move up to middle school and high school.
Here are six steps to smarter studying:
  1. Pay attention in class.
  2. Take good notes.
  3. Plan ahead for tests and projects.
  4. Break it down. (If you have a bunch of stuff to learn, break it into smaller chunks.)
  5. Ask for help if you get stuck.
  6. Get a good night's sleep!

1. Pay Attention: Good Studying Starts in Class

Here's a riddle for you: Did you know that before you even begin studying, you've already started? Huh? Here's what we mean. When you pay attention in class and take good notes, you are starting the process of learning and studying.
Do you have trouble paying attention in class? Are you sitting next to a loud person? Is it hard to see the board? Make sure you're sitting in a good seat that lets you pay attention. Tell your teacher or parents about any problems that are preventing you from paying attention and taking good notes.

2. Good Notes = Easier Studying

Not sure how to take notes? Start by writing down facts that your teacher mentions or writes on the board during class. Try your best to use good handwriting so you can read your notes later. It's also a good idea to keep your notes, quizzes, and papers organized by subject.

3. Plan Ahead and You'll Be Glad You Did

Waiting until Thursday night to study for Friday's test will make for a homework night that's no fun! It also makes it hard to do your best. We're all guilty of putting things off sometimes. One of the best ways to make sure that doesn't happen is to plan ahead.
Ask for a cool calendar (something you like and can keep by your desk or study area) and write down your test and assignment due dates. You can then plan how much to do after school each day, and how much time to spend on each topic. Are lessons or extracurricular activities making it hard to find time to study? Ask your mom or dad how to make a schedule of what to do when.

4. Break It Up!

When there's a lot to study, it can help to break things into chunks. Let's say you have a test on 20 spelling words. Instead of thinking about all of the words at once, try breaking them down into five-word chunks and working on one or two different chunks each night.
Don't worry if you can't remember something on the first try. That's where practice comes in. The more days you spend reviewing something, the more likely it is to stick in your brain. There are also tricks called mnemonic (say: new-mah-nik) devices that can help you remember stuff. When you're trying to memorize a list of things, make up a phrase that uses the first letter of each. For example, are you trying to learn the eight planets and their order from the sun? Think: MVery ExcellentMother Just Served UNachos to remember Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Your teacher can give you ideas, too.
Another way to break it up is to study regularly instead of just the night before. You can always review your notes and read over the chapters you're working on. Or, if you're studying math or science, do some practice problems.
How much studying should you do each night? Your teacher can help you figure it out. Most brains can only pay attention for about 45 minutes. So if you've been working for a while and find it hard to pay attention, try taking a break for some water or a walk around the house. Just fight the temptation to turn on the TV or stop working!

5. Lose the Confusion — Ask for Help

You can't study effectively if you don't understand the material. Be sure to ask your teacher for help if you're confused about something. You can check yourself by reading through your notes. Does it all make sense? If not, ask your teacher to go over it with you. If you're at home when the confusion occurs, your mom or dad might be able to help.

6. Sleep Tight!

So the test is tomorrow and you've followed your study plan — but suddenly you can't remember anything, not even 2+2! Don't panic. Your brain needs time to digest all the information you've given it. Try to get a good night's sleep and you'll be surprised by what comes back to you in the morning.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD

Top 10 Homework tips

Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.
Of course, helping with homework shouldn't mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!
Here are some tips to guide the way:
  1. Know the teachers — and what they're looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child's teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
  2. Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
  3. Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
  4. Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there's an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
  5. Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
  6. Make sure kids do their own work. They won't learn if they don't think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it's a kid's job to do the learning.
  7. Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
  8. Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents' examples than their advice.
  9. Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
  10. If there are continuing problems with homework, get help.Talk about it with your child's teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.
Reviewed by: Eric J. Gabor, JD

Sleep matters

At a glance

How many hours sleep should your child be getting and why is it so important?

Why does sleep matter?

A boy asleep at his desk © Fotolia XIII @
Experts acknowledge that sleep plays a significant role in brain development, and it is therefore important for children to get enough sleep as their bodies grow and mature. Sleep is crucial for teenagers - it is while they are snoozing at night that they release a hormone that is essential for the growth spurt during puberty.
As well as the role it plays in brain development, sleep also plays an important role in our brain’s day-to-day ability to function. Lack of sleep makes it much harder for us to concentrate, and we become forgetful, irritable and prone to being clumsy and making mistakes.
Furthermore, scientific evidence shows that the right amount of night-time sleep is just as important for children’s development as healthy eating and regular exercise.

How much sleep does my primary school child need?

Sleep requirements differ from individual to individual, but in general a younger child needs more sleep than an older one. Between the ages of five and 11, your child will need 10-12 hours of sleep a night.
A bedtime routine is the best way to ensure that your child gets enough sleep. Devise a routine that lasts 30-40 minutes, and includes a bath and the chance to read a story (or stories) together. Try not to change your routine – don’t change it at all during the week, and if you want your child to have a slightly later bedtime at the weekend, then only change it by maybe an hour .
Bedtime is a chance to spend some quality time together, and if it’s a time both you and your child enjoy, your son or daughter will settle down in bed and drop off to sleep more easily.
At stressful times, such as when your child starts in Reception, and at the start of each new school year, your child will probably get more tired than usual and will need more sleep.
In the summer, because of the light evenings, it may be tempting to keep children up later – but try to keep to scheduled bedtimes, and invest in curtains with a blackout lining so the room is dark.
Towards the end of primary school, your son or daughter may start to stay up later in the evening, maybe chatting to friends online, playing games on a console or watching TV. They will find it difficult to get up in the morning and will be tired or irritable during the day if they don’t get enough sleep.
Limit your child’s use of the internet, games consoles and TV in the hour before they go to bed – and ideally don’t allow your son or daughter to have a computer, console or a TV set in their bedroom.

How much sleep does my secondary school child need?

Between the ages of 11 and 18, your child will need 8.5-10 hours of sleep a night.
It can be difficult to encourage older children to keep to a regular bedtime, but it’s important to try. Experts have linked a lack of sleep to problems with behaviour, concentration and achievement at school. A lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain too, because it inhibits the production of appetite-controlling hormones.
Older children often don’t realise they’re cutting back on their sleep. Talk to your child - if they are finding it difficult to get up in the morning, suggest earlier nights.
A routine can be hard to enforce, but you can make your older child’s bedtime an opportunity for some quality time with you, just as you did when they were at primary school. Why not make it a regular habit to have a brief end of day chat with them before they put the light out?