It’s that dreaded time of year: mid-term season. Parents and students alike dread mid-terms, but with a few tips, there is no reason to be afraid. The key— as in all things — is to be prepared.  Today we are going to cover some of the study skills you will need to get ready for exams.

The first step is to be organized. Don’t study in a slapdash manner. Instead plan out ahead of time how you want to tackle your studies. You should try to determine which topics are going to be most important on the exam. Often a teacher will give students some idea of what areas to focus on. Then, when setting aside time to study, give focus to those areas that will be most relevant on the exam. Additionally, if there are areas where you have more trouble than others set aside extra time for those. If you plan ahead and know just how much time and attention you want to give to each subject, your studies will be less stressful and more manageable.

It’s important in preparing for exams to take a look at old tests and study guides. Old tests can give you some idea of what types of subjects will be most relevant; and, additionally, they will show you what types of answers may be expected of you.  A parent or tutor can help guide a student in examining past tests to determine which topics are most important. You can do this by indicating which topics get more questions, and thus, higher priority on a test. Help your students examine the mistakes they made on their past tests and help them develop strategies to avoid making them again. Also, you can compare the study guides to old tests and see what kind of questions actually made it onto the test from the guide. A lot is revealed in writing, and by seeing how teachers constructed previous tests, you can get a good idea of what to expect from mid-terms.

The more connections that can be made to a topic, the better chance there is of recalling that information.  This can be seen in everyday tasks, such as learning a new friend’s name.  It is easier to learn a person’s name if you associate the name with another connection that you may have.  This principle is also true when studying for classes.  Develop graphic organizers or flow charts to make information manageable and to map the connections between topics. And of course, the tried and true method of putting information on index cards for rapid review is always a good move.

For those of you who learn better from pictures, it will be helpful to draw pictures of material to help better memorize what you’re studying.  This is especially helpful for visual learners when trying to learn new vocabulary.  Textbooks are an often overlooked resource.  A parent or tutor can help students better understand how to use textbooks as a valuable resource. For example, point out the importance of bolded words and graphics. Also, chapter reviews and tests at the end of the chapters can be good study tools. Finally, when a student has gone over a chapter, have that student summarize it in his or her own words.

Another helpful tactic is to give your children mini quizzes in timed environment so that they have practice working in time constraints.  Also, stress the importance of reviewing work for simple mistakes.    Parents can also help students understand how to think about tests. Guide them through the proper ways to approach a question based on the type of question. Try to explain to them what the thought process is when determining the answer to a question.

Finally, here are a couple common sense tactics for students:

Take breaks when you need them. Don’t slog through your studies without giving yourself a breather. And review study materials the morning before a test after having a good night’s sleep.

Follow these guidelines and you will find that preparing for mid-terms isn’t as scary as you may have thought.