05-20-2010 - MTFF: 5 Biggest Test Taking Mistakes of All Time and How To Avoid Them!
The Grade Coach
MTFF: 5 Biggest Test Taking Mistakes of All Time and How To Avoid Them! Sent Thursday, May 20, 2010 
May 20th 2010
Weekly tips for better grades with less stress from The Grade Coach

A Note From Julie

Hi ,

Why is it that the weather is always great during exam season? Even in Scotland I always remember sitting inside studying or sitting an exam while the sun shone outside. It seems like a cruel act of fate, or maybe it is just the light at the end of the tunnel!

I am sticking with test skills this week in both this newsletter and the blogs. This week I am trying help all students avoid some of the biggest mistakes that are commonly made in tests.

Let me know how it matches with your experiences.

Thanks to everyone who has signed up for the Free Teleseminar for Parents on June 1st, I am looking forward to answering your questions. Remember to invite any other parents you think would benefit. Just send them to http://thegradecoach.com/coach/overwhelmed/ to sign up
Wishing happiness and success


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    5 Biggest Test Taking Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

    Exams, tests, quizzes oh my! The horror of every student (and their parents!) They are needed to check that all the material that has been thrown at the students all year has actually sunk in and been understood.

    But a lot of students have studied hard, know the material, can apply it and still bomb the tests! Why is this?

    Quite simply they have put all the effort into learning the subject and a lot less time learning how to sit tests.

    Teachers cover some techniques at an early age, but by the time the pressure is on those messages have become lost in the barrage of information that hits our students in the course of a day.

    There are some major mistakes that students commonly make and I want to cover them and how to avoid falling into theses traps, so the true depth of their knowledge can shine through.

    Mistake # 1: Answering Test Questions In Order

    So why shouldn't you do the test questions in order?

    To begin with, you have to realize that every exam has questions that differ in difficulty level. This is one fact that will always be true regardless of what subject or class you take or which teacher or professor is giving the test.

    Some questions are easy, some are hard and some feel like they are near impossible to solve.

    Also, you can't predict the order in which these questions will be given on the exam. That means that you can never know whether your professor will make Question 1 the easiest question, or the most difficult question.

    So why do most students start with Question 1?

    What if Question 1 just happens to be the most difficult question on the test? If you start with this question, chances are high that you will get really discouraged, stuck, and you may even give up on the whole exam.

    Starting a test by beginning with the most difficult questions can hurt your grade in several ways.

    Read more in the blog

    Mistake # 2: Failing to read the instructions          

    Every student is told - "make sure you read the instructions before you start", but the pressure and stresses of a test or exam seem to get the better of us all and we tend to dive straight in, the thought being that we just don't have time to waste reading instructions that are, let's face it, usually obvious anyway.

    Plus there is a whole macho thing about not needing instructions (goes along with never needing to ask for directions in adult males!)

    There is a classic exercise that is used in many study skills workshops. Students are given a set of 10 questions and told to read through all of them then complete as directed. And there is a prize for the one who finishes first!  Almost all the students bend their heads in a fever of work and the only sound that can be heard is the scraping of pencil on paper. Eventually someone reaches the last question which reads "now you have read all the questions, do not answer any of them, put down your pencil and quietly sit up straight"

    More often than not this last question is met with a groan, or a head hitting the table!

    What a lot of wasted energy! If only they had followed the instructions!

    There are some major advantages to reading the instructions

    Read more in the blog

    Mistake # 3: Last Minute Cramming

    Cramming before a test is the situation where a student reads his notes till right before they go into the test. He tries to cram as much as he can into his brain until the last minute, thinking that this will help him do better on the test because the stuff he studied (crammed) will be fresh in his mind.

    Cramming information until right before the exam is not going to help you do better on the exam.  

    This is because cramming right before a test will increase your chances of getting confused during the test. It will also increase your chances of 'going blank' in the test, which is every student's worst nightmare.

    You should NEVER cram right before the test. In fact, you should stop studying for a test one hour before you take it. .

    Your brain needs time to sort out the information you are putting into it. It needs to be able to file it away in the right place so it can be pulled out again easily when you need it. If you don't give yourself this time then that is when the blanks and panics kick in.

    A big part of doing well on tests is remaining calm before, during, and after the test. Cramming promotes nervousness and anxiety. By avoiding this, you will be calm and collected during the test, and you will get better grades.

    So if you want to start getting better grades on your tests, stop cramming until the last minute. In fact, make it a habit to stop studying at least 30 minutes before the test, no matter how much you feel you have to study.

    Mistake # 4: Last minute Quizzing

    This happens when students get into small groups right before the test to quiz each other on questions that they believe might show up on the test. They also spend this time to ask and clarify the concepts and topics that they did not understand while they were studying their notes and textbooks.

    This does more harm than good.

    Let's say you are participating in one of these group quizzing sessions. You feel confident that you are ready for the exam, and you are willing to share your knowledge with others in the group. In return, you expect to get some valuable knowledge from the group.

    Everything seems to be going well, until...

    A student in the group asks a rather difficult question that no one seems to be able to answer. Everyone begins searching in their textbooks and notes for the answer, but they can't find it.

    Everyone in the group attempts to answer the question by giving their opinions. You listen to all that's happening and you begin to get confused and your confidence begins to crumble.

    It gets even worse when someone in the group says something that throws you off because it conflicts with your understanding of the topic. You get more confused and begin to find it hard to make sense of everything you studied. This confusion carries into the exam, and you don't do well on it.

    And all this started because of 1 question asked during the group quizzing session.

    Group quizzing sessions can work well as long as they are done in advance and you have a chance to look up the answers, and check your understanding.

    If you want to get great grades on a test, avoid participating in last minute quizzing.

    Mistake # 5: Failing to finish the test

    It is much easier to get at least 50% on every question than 100% on half of the questions. The first 50% of the marks are usually the easiest. Even if you make some sort of attempt at every question you will get a better grade than trying to get a perfect score on a limited number.

    The trick here is to divide your time by the number of questions in the test. Allow a little time at the end for checking. Then split the time equally. Write down the actual time when you will move onto the next question - this saves you trying to work it out as you go through the test. When you get to that time - move on! If you have not completed the question, put a mark next to it so you know to come back to it if you have extra time at the end.

    Avoid these 5 common mistakes and you will be able to let your true knowledge shine through.

    If you or your child are struggling to control your time and get the results you know you are capable of then it is time to take action.  The Focused Time Management System TM for Students avoids all the clutter and gives you the most important things to focus on to get you back in control of your time and your life. It's all step by step, not a big mish mash of things. So you do step one of the system, and when you're done with that, you move on to step two, and so on. So easy!  All the tips, tools, and worksheets are handed to you on a silver platter.  E mail me at Julie@thegradecoach.com to arrange a time to chat over your issues and see if I can help.
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    You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:The Grade Coach Julie Baird helps overwhelmed students through High School and college with time management skills so they can get back in control of their lives and get the grades they deserve with less stress. Julie publishes the FREE weekly E-Zine "Make Time For Fun" for students and their parents. If you want valuable tips and resources to get more done in less time. Sign up now at www.MakeTimeForFun.com

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    More articles are in our blog

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