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Test Taking Study Skills Strategies

Test Taking /Study Skills Strategies
Dr. Mackenzi Leachman

  1. Read material using the following strategies:
    1. Survey the chapter and form a general summary of the material (Make predictions about what will be learned within the chapter; Look at chapter title, subtitles, bolded words, read introduction and conclusion/summary
    2. Read text and attend to the main ideas.  Ask yourself these questions after each paragraph:
      1. In this paragraph, is there anything I don’t understand?
      2. What’s the most important sentence?
      3. Summarize the paragraph
      4. Can I see the theme as it relates to the chapter
      5. What might be a test question here?  Write it down.
      6. List the topic of the paragraph and 2 critical details.
    3. Look at the maps and graphics in the text
    4. Verbally restate main ideas and details or Write main ideas and details
  2. Rewrite notes
  3. Outline chapters
  4. Make a list of key terms
  5. Flash cards
  6. Predict possible test questions from class notes
  7. Predict possible test questions from textbook
  8. Practice answering questions in different formats (multiple choice, short answer, fill in the blank)
  9. Study with a friend and discuss different topics
  10. Practice writing out responses
  11. Make charts that compare and contrast people, theories, etc.
  12. Complete and review study guides.
  13. Begin studying for a test 5 days out:
    • Day 1—Get organized (Review materials—notes, text, study guide, etc)
    • Day 2—Make a list of common themes within notes, text, and study guides; Predict questions
    • Day 3—Make necessary flash cards, rewrite notes, if missing information— find it!
    • Day 4—Begin quizzing yourself by making up a test and taking it!
    • Day 5—Calmly review all information

Homework Strategies/Organizational Strategies

  1. Set a goal for the amount of homework wanting to be accomplished
  2. Have a “homework time” set aside every day with scheduled breaks.  For students who have difficulty focusing, work in 15-minute time intervals.  Work for 15 minutes, then take a break (get a drink, use the bathroom, etc).  Continue thinking about the material during the break.  Most importantly, don’t forget to return to the task.  If transitioning back to studying is an issue, work for longer than 15-minute interval if possible.
  3. Use a different backpack for A day and B day.
  4. Attend Extended School Services (ESS) and review notes, even when there is not a test or homework
  5. For large projects, set up timelines for yourself and give you enough time to easily meet the final project deadline.  Use assignment calendars so you can see when you have tests and when you have homework.
  6. Meet with the teacher and ask what his/her expectations are for projects and homework.
  7. Notebook organization. Set up your notebook with your parents/teacher and demonstrate once a week how you are organized. 

Attention Strategies/Staying Focused

  1. Self-monitoring Strategies. Take a sheet of paper and begin self-recording every 15 minutes (6 times per block) if you thought you were focused or not. Record every time the teacher says “Get to work” or “Pay attention”; Check yourself and indicate if you were or not. If you were not on task, raise your hand and ask the teacher to repeat what he/she just said.
  2. Lists. Make lists of tasks you need to accomplish. Revisit these lists to make sure you are staying on task and working towards your goal.
  3. Take Notes, but don’t note everything. Try to listen for key terms or only write down what the teacher says is important. If you try to write down everything, you will get lost.  Try to focus on what the teacher is telling you.  Look at the teacher and ask questions to make sure you understand.
  4. Choose your seat. Sit in the same seat everyday.  Ask the teacher if you can choose a seat near him/her. Try to sit away from friends to avoid distractions. 
  5. Get it out and get it ready. Develop a routine of what you do when you go into class and sit down. Try to do the same thing every time. Always have pencil and paper ready. If you get distracted, try writing down key words the teacher says.


National Association of School Psychologists. (1998). Helping Children at Home and at School.  NASP Publications: Bethesda, MD.

Sprick, R., Sprick, M., & Garrison, M.  (1998). Interventions: Collaborative Planning for Students At-Risk.  Sopris West:  Longmont, CO.

National Association of School Psychologists. ( 1991).  Interventions for Achievement and Behavior Problems.  NASP Publications: Bethesda, MD.