With the end of the semester upon us that means many students will be taking final exams, especially those in high school. Studying for finals is a lot like the “last kick” in a demanding swimming race. It’s the final effort that can make the difference between having an excellent performance and one that might leave a student feeling disappointed. Like the last kick in the swimming race, finals come at the time when the student (racer) is most tired, so making sure that the energy a student puts into the final kick isn’t wasted is especially important. It’s even more important for those challenged by ADHD. Here are some excellent pointers we found to maximize the chances that your student’s push for the finish goes as smoothly as possible. Research shows that these solid study techniques help kids with ADHD learn faster, retain more, and perform better on tests.
10 Tips For Final Exam Study Success
- Create A Practice Test
Studying by reading is passive, and is challenging for the ADHD brain. It’s a bit like trying to learn to cook by watching The Food Network without actually getting in the kitchen. The best way to study is to make a practice test. Most teachers drop clues as to what they will put on a final, so try to predict what your teacher may ask on the exam: Review old quizzes and look over your study guide, find and organize important notes, and ask other students what they think is important. Then create a practice test.
- If You Use Technology For Class, Use It To Study
Creating a practice test will require you to pore over your notes, so if you use tech for class, now use it to capture what you might have missed during the lecture. Notetaking apps like Notability and Evernote or devices like the Livescribe Smartpen record a lecture while you take notes. Synching the audio with the notes is an excellent review startegy and is a big help for auditory learners.
- Avoid Cramming
Reviewing your class material over several days is shown to increase the odds that you will remember more and have better understanding. Don’t cram for tests. Use several short study sessions and a planner or calendar to schedule them. Forty-five minutes a day over four days will give you deeper familiarity with the material and sleeping on it will help you retain more of it.
- Study Environment: Think About What Works Best For You
You’ve got to be honest with yourself: If a laptop, phone, or a pet at home takes you off task, you need to put them aside or get out of the house. Seeking out locations outside of your house or room can increase your focus and motivation for studying. Some kids study well in a coffee shop or another venue that has moderate levels of background noise. Others need the isolation of a study carrel in the library, far away from distracting sounds and sights. Experiment and see what works best for you.
- A Quick Review Before You Snooze
You remember more when you take 10 to 15 minutes to review material just before you go to sleep according to studies. That does NOT mean you should do all of your studying at bedtime, so just do a quick review so the brain processes the information as you dream away.
- Exercise = Learning More
In students with ADHD, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, four to five days a week, improves focus and executive functioning skills. Are you an athlete? Study on the bus or in the car as you travel home from an event. Think about studying right after practice, too. Not a sporto? Walk your dog, shoot some hoops, or bounce on a trampoline before doing schoolwork.
- Smell Your Way To Remembering
Research has shown that if you are exposed to the same smell when you study as when you sleep, you may remember more. Do it like this: When you study, put a small dish of scented oil nearby (peppermint relieves stress so it’s a good choice). Place a small dish of the same scent by your bed when you sleep. Studies indicate that your brain will associate the scent with the material studied and help you to remember.
- Plan For Breaks
Many students overestimate the amount of time they will be able to study without taking a break. Additionally, having a little downtime enables your brain to review information, even when you don’t know you’re processing it. Don’t plow straight through the test material for hours on end. Research shows that students remember more when they take breaks during study sessions.
- Take A Power Nap
It’s well documented that teens need more sleep than adults and experts say that most people need to sleep eight to nine hours a night to remember what they’ve learned. Thirty-minute afternoon naps can help, but be sure to limit them to 30 minutes, since extended naps could wreck your normal sleep cycle.
- Fuel The Brain
To maintain focus and mood, the brain needs glucose. Sipping Gatorade or apple juice provides glucose, while skipping the sugar crash rollercoaster ride that soda and other drinks with high levels of sugar can cause.