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Finals week is on the way. Almost all students in grades
six through college will have at least a few final exams.
When most students look toward finals week, it's not with anticipation
but trepidation. Sure, there are a few who breeze through.
They like finals because they don't have to have classes for
the whole day. Most, however, respond with, "I hate
finals! I always study, but my grade never reflects what
I know!" It's not an uncommon cry.
What most students don't know about finals is that they rely almost completely on long-term memory. Thus, the students who know how to access long-term memory are the ones who breeze through.
The myth that studying need not commence until the review sheet is handed out reinforces reliance on short term memory. Getting information into the short term memory is fairly easy. It can be done with rote memorization and cramming. But the problem is it doesn't last.
Short Term Memory (STM) is the first to go with age and with stress. Think of a really old person you know. (I mean really old, not just over 40!) Most older people can remember events in their lives that happened years and years ago. Some of those same people have difficulty telling you who visited them yesterday. Why? For many it basically comes down to long term versus short term memory. Long Term Memory (LTM) sticks with you when you get old or when you feel stressed. Short term memory is the first to go.
Okay, be truthful now. Do you think final exams evoke a bit of stress for most students? Most readily agree that they don't like them and get stressed out over exams. What should students do so they won't forget everything they learned because of the Finals Fury? Read on.
Locking the information into the Long Term Memory (LTM) is one
key to avoiding the Finals Fury because LTM is not as affected
by stress as STM.
Long term memory requires Spaced, Frequent, Repetition and Recall (LTM = SFRR). Finals week is right around the corner. In order to do well on finals, students must begin getting that information in their long term memories now! How? By studying. It's not too late--yet.
Just looking over the information does not constitute studying. Studying for keeps requires that, over a period of days, weeks, or even months, students repeat/review information frequently. Repetition is crucial, but they must also repeatedly recall the information without looking at it! This isn't just spewing out information, but really understanding it. (This is the SFRR required for LTM.)
While each student needs to use the LTM=SFRR formula, studying will be different for each student. Each person has a different set of learning styles and methods that work for him/her.
Students won't study algebra the same way they study Spanish. Each subject requires it's own unique study skills for each student.
These skills are taught in-depth at the Study Smart workshops. (If you're not sure your students have these skills, call (281)265-3828 for registration information.) Most students find it helpful to get out the Study Smart workbook and review studying and testing skills about this time of year.
A word of caution: clinical test anxiety is an anxiety disorder that will not be overcome only by improving study skills. Most important: remember that a test is not a test of who they are but of the knowledge they can communicate on the test. What is important is that your child does his/her best.
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