The end of the school year is coming up faster than you might think. Before you know it, final exams will be here, and many students will find themselves cramming late into the night. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re reading this right now, there is still plenty of time to get organized and make a plan.
It starts with setting goals. Here are some ideas, study tips and strategies to finish out the school year on a high note.
1. Sit down with your child and agree on academic goals, such as bumping up grades in certain subjects or getting an A on a particular final exam. Talk with your child about your expectations for the end of year, and get their perspective on what is most important to them. If they don’t buy into these goals, they are unlikely to exert the effort to achieve them. Setting goals will help narrow down the areas where they should focus their efforts so they don’t get overwhelmed. You could even set up a reward system along with their goals to help keep your eyes on the prize!
2. Discuss with your child what they need to do to accomplish these goals. Maybe they or you need to contact teachers to confirm the material that will be covered and/or format of the exam (essay or multiple choice – format can inform preparation).
3. Make a study plan. Reviewing everything the night before the test almost guarantees the information won’t stick, and trying to study every unit and subject every day is a good way to get overwhelmed. Instead, help your child break the workload down into smaller units of time, and create a schedule they can stick to over the next several weeks and months.
4. Get organized. Is your child’s book bag a mash of papers and files? If so, now is the time to address that. Have them dump everything out of their bag and organize it. You might need to do this a couple times before they start keeping it organized, if only to avoid the embarrassment of dumping out the bag again. Achieving top grades usually requires not only great test scores but consistent and timely completion of all homework.
5. For older students, ask them whether they plan on studying alone or with others. There can be strength in numbers, and that adage definitely applies to study sessions. If studying solo is their preference, then that’s the right way to go. But misery also loves company, so working with a small group of similarly motivated classmates may help. When they study with a group they can feel less alone, and each member of the group often has different strengths and ideas. They can learn from each other, quiz one another, and help keep each other focused. But they need to all see this as a study group, and not just an excuse to socialize. Moreover, you might suggest to your child that studying with more academically talented students can often bring up the grades of the entire group.
6. Finally, to get the most out of the period leading up to the end of the school year, if things are just not jelling, consider hiring a tutor. Tutors aren’t just for people who struggle; they can also offer study tips, strategies and advice from someone other than a family member.
Patrick McNamara is the owner and executive director at Sylvan Learning of Albany and Clifton Park. For more information, visit SylvanLearning.com.