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Holy trinity episcopal academy

Tips for Successful Exam Preparation

By Kathy Peters, Head of Junior High School
1.   Think and plan ahead. 
Exam weeks are very stressful for students, and December is a stressful, busy month for families, too. Try to clear your child’s calendar for the remaining days in December as much as possible, and definitely avoid scheduling additional activities during the period of time that exams are given. Try not to go to the orthodontist during the school day! This is also not a good weekend to have a sleepover, go to Disney or do marathon shopping.  

If you really need to get things done during this time, team up with another parent or two and take turns hosting study sessions while the other parent runs their December errands.

Be particularly aware of the distractions that can be caused by social media and electronic devices, and help your child to manage this during the entire week.
 
2.   Make a study calendar.  
Map out the exam days. Discuss with your child which exams will be most challenging and which will be easier. Students should be organizing and studying for exams well before Friday night, Dec. 13. Plan study and break sessions for exams for the next two weeks with your student.
 
3.   Help to organize review guides, notes and notebooks into a study packet for each class. 
Organization should be happening during the week leading up to exams, and on the weekends before they begin. Make sure that your child has a copy of all review guides for exams – you may even want to make a special folder just for these. 

Be sure your child understands what kind of test (Gradecam sheet, scantron, short answer, essay) they will be taking, and which classes allow notes or a notecard. Students also should know which classes will need #2 pencils for machine scorable sheets. 

Be sure your child has all copies of papers and notes needed- especially if they were absent. Make use of onCampus as many teachers have notes and PowerPoints available there.
 
4.   Send stress balls, water, peppermints and snacks (or snack money) for exam days. 
Also encourage eating breakfast before exams. Limit caffeine and sugar if possible during this week. Have some special snacks and drinks on hand at home for study breaks. 

Talk about the importance of breathing, having a positive focus, and staying hydrated as students  begin each exam. These three actions keep your brain in “thinking” mode. 
 
5.   Take advantage of extra help when offered. 
Academic coaches will be offering additional help sessions, and there will be two exam prep workshops. Many teachers offer review sessions before or after school, and some will plan a specific review session just for their exam. Teachers will be available for questions until at least 1:30 p.m. daily during exam week.
 
6.   Anticipate your child’s reaction. 
We usually see these two polar reactions: First, we have the extremely stressed over-studier type; next, we have the “What? We have an exam today?” type. Which is your child more like?
  • For the stressed out student, having a plan and sticking to it is very important. Try not to surprise them this week with any unexpected appointments, and encourage taking a stress break during each study session. Send your student outside for 20 minutes, allow them to meditate, listen to music, watch a silly Christmas special for 30 minutes, or chat with their friends. Your student will probably start to relax a bit after the first day as they will have a better handle on what to expect.
  • For the student who is not even concerned or aware, you may need to take a more active role in preparing them for the first two exams. Help your student to make flash cards, a review summary sheet, or to complete the first two study guides. After the first exam day, your student should be more oriented to what is expected.
 
7.   Plan your student’s pickup.
If you are unable to pick up your student during exam week, try to arrange to have someone else pick up your child at 12:20 p.m. Students get quite tired after four hours of exams.
 
8.   Students will only see their teachers on exam days after Friday, Dec. 13. 
You may suggest that your student visits their teachers before or after school if they have a question or need a few minutes of help before the day of their exam. You can schedule appointments with your student’s teachers if you feel that they really need a little extra assistance.
 
9.   Be sure your child is aware of time. 
A two hour exam period can either drag on or fly by. Teach your child to be aware of the passing of time and to gauge how much time it will take to complete something. Most exams are written to be finished in one and one half hours.
 
10.    Review good test taking skills. 
Get to the exam on time and be prepared with the proper materials. Be sure your student leaves the house with notecards or notes if permitted on the exam for the day. 

Remind them to do these things when they receive the test: 
  • Look at the whole exam before they begin.
  • Read all directions carefully.
  • Skip and go back to the questions they do not know.
  • Answer essay questions or questions that are worth the most points first if possible.
  • Monitor the passing of time.
  • Record answers on answer sheets carefully.
  • Be sure to erase carefully if they change an answer.
  • Look over their paper/exam one more time before handing it in.
  • Don’t try to be the first person finished.
 
11.   Talk about honorable behavior.  
All HT students have promised to live by our Honor Code, and they will also sign an honor statement attheconclusion of every exam they complete. It is best to tell students not to discuss exams with each other at all during exam week. An innocent question such as “was the science exam hard?” can so easily lead to accidentally divulging confidential information.  Students should not share notes, notebooks, study guides or notecards. Using another student’s materials to take an exam is also prohibited.
 
12.   Be sure your child is aware of exam day expectations. 
Exams start on time, so avoid arriving at the last minute. Teachers will collect cell phones and smart watches, as well as remove all papers, books and backpacks from the testing area. Computers will be stowed in backpacks.

Be sure your child has plenty of paper, pencils and pens. It is required that the room remains silent for the full exam period, and no one is dismissed to use the restroom during an exam.  

Quiet reading or studying is expected when your student has finished the exam. Headphones, phone and/or laptop use will not be permitted during the exam period.
 
13.   Keep the proper perspective. 
They are tests, and they are important, but they are just tests. Don’t let your child get derailed if he/she does not do well on one exam. Help your student to regroup and prepare for the next one. 

You may suggest that your student talks to their teacher if he/she felt particularly unprepared, or if an unforeseen issue had an impact on his/her performance on that day. Also, tests can be made up if necessary. 

Please don’t send very unwell students to school. They won’t test well, and other students and teachers may also get sick. Please email Mrs. Peters (kpeters@htes.org) as well as your student’s teachers to work out a make up arrangement if your child misses an exam. If this is not possible, exams will be left with Mrs. Peters and can be made up by appointment on Monday, Jan. 6. All exams must be completed before students can return to class on Tuesday, Jan. 7. 

No exams will be given early. If you have a conflict or special situation, please contact kpeters@htes.org.
 
14.   Questions your child should ask the teacher:
  • May I use notes or a notecard on your exam?
  • Will you be giving us a study guide?
  • What chapters or units will the exam cover?
  • Will you review in class for this exam? What day?
  • Will your test be a bubble sheet, short answer, essay or some other form?
  • What would be the best thing to do or study in order to be prepared?
  • Should I save my notes, handouts and notebook for your final exam, or can I recycle them after the test is over?
  • Is this a high school credit class?
 
Please save this guide for use with final exams in May during the week of May 18-21. We will follow the same schedule, except that the exams will begin with period 7 and end with period 1 on the last day of school. This advice may also be helpful next year!
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