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Play the Exam Game

Oh, I remember those weeks well. I, or rather, we (my mom and I), would spend hours preparing for a test, reading books cover to cover, doing flash cards, interpretive dance, and anything else we could think of to get facts to stick for a test that I would...fail. In the conference a week later, mom and I would hear the same comments: "Work harder, study more, take a parenting class," etc., etc.

Here's what I've learned since then. There are two ideas that are essential to your child's success with test taking. Number one: Most students, especially students with LD or ADHD, are never really given a method to study for exams that is right for their way of thinking. Since each child retains and organizes information in a unique way, each child needs to discover a study method that fits the way her mind works. Individualizing is the key to success -- what works for one kid will not necessarily work well for another.

Principle number two: Have an honest discussion with your child concerning the true value of tests. For the most part, we tell kids that tests are something that we just have to do, or we use threats to motivate them. The truth is, tests are not an accurate indicator of intelligence, and in many cases, not an adequate assessment of what your child knows. Explain this to your child in order to remove some of the fear associated with tests, and then help her discover her own motivation for succeeding at test taking. Tell her that learning how to take tests is like learning how to play a game, and by playing the game well, she can open doors in her life that she wants open.

Individualizing reviewing methods and finding intrinsic motivation are the best ways to motivate and empower students who don't fit into the traditional academic mold. Here's what to do next:

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