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Q: My daughter does a lot of studying for tests, but on test day she freezes. If the questions are not asked in the way she studied for them, she does poorly on the test. What advice can you offer us?
A: Unfortunately, your daughter isn't studying correctly for tests. If she were, her grades would reflect the good effort she is making. Your daughter needs to know the exact format of each test before she ever starts to study for it. If she doesn't, she needs to ask the teacher in order to avoid unpleasant surprises on test day.
To be successful on different types of tests, your daughter will have to learn to prepare for each one in a special way. On multiple-choice and matching tests, the correct answer is actually on the test. To do well, your daughter must be able to recall specific details such as dates, names, and definitions of key terms. The same is true for short-answer tests, only she will be expected to spell her answers correctly. Much memorization is required for these tests.
For essay tests, your daughter will need to understand the big picture with some knowledge of supporting details. The most difficult type of test to prepare for is probably true-false, as it can deal with both major issues and specific facts. Many teachers will combine several types of questions on a test. In order to learn how to prepare well for tests, you and your daughter should read a good study-skills book.
Here are some general hints about preparing for tests:
1. Frequently review new and difficult material several days before a test so that it is truly learned.
2. Answer all questions on study guides.
3. Do all the review work at the end of a chapter.
4. Make up and answer your own test questions.
5. Study past tests carefully to see where your errors are being made.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.