Study and Test Taking Skills
The students will build upon what they learned about time management and develop a set of study skills that will help them to learn, truly understand, and recall material. They will learn a strategy for test taking that will serve them well on exams that require responding to questions relating to text.
- create a study plan, including a schedule and an overview of what they need to know and how they will go about learning it.
- identify "cramming" and study distractions as a having negative influence on learning.
- practice making note cards for memorization purposes.
- practice determining the main idea while reading.
- usethe "RRAP" strategy for reading passage tests (Read Questions, Read Passage, Answer Questions Using Evidence from the Text, Proof Read).
- chart paper
- markers, writing paper, pencils
- index or note cards
- Handout: Study Skills (2 per student)
- geography textbook listing world capitals or student copies of a printout from the Internet of countries and capitals
- "RRAP" Chart (see Teacher Preparation).
- student copies of three short reading passages with comprehension questions
- comprehension: understanding the meaning or importance of something
- cramming: The practice of working intensively to absorb large volumes of information in short amounts of time. Often used by youth who have not utilized studying time properly. Generally considered to be a poor strategy that does not result in long-term learning
- evidence: information that proves or disproves something
- passage: one or several paragraphs on a certain subject matter
- procrastination: The act of putting off or delaying an action until a later time
- strategy: the skilled use of a method or plan
- study skills: strategies and techniques that learners use in order to understand and remember new material, often in preparation for a test. They are critical to success in school, are considered essential for achieving good grades, and are useful for learning throughout one’s life
Ask, “What is the most valuable study skill or learning from today that you plan to use right away?” Ask for volunteers to share their answers.
Recall the work the students did on time management. Review the vocabulary from that session and ask them to reflect on how their time management plan is working. Tell them that in this lesson they will focus on time management skills that will prove useful when studying. They will leave feeling capable of creating a study plan and sticking to it.
Ask the students to reflect on their study strategies that work and also the strategies that don't work. First they can discuss these with a partner, and then discuss with the class. For now, list both the positive and the negative strategies together.
Tell the students that some of the strategies they currently use are probably helpful, while some are less so. Ask, “Which strategies do you think would result in learning?” Put a star by the strategies students identify as most effective. Validate their choices that lead to long-term retention and understanding, such as working a short amount each day, finishing assignments on time, and asking for help.
Explain that the strategy of “cramming” may help students memorize some facts for a short time, but it also creates stress and sleep deprivation. Explain that the brain cannot commit new learning to long-term memory in such a short amount of time – so while people may feel as though they are learning it all, many wake up the next day tired, stressed, and unable to remember important information. And it certainly won't be there for later in the semester or for building future learning.
Tell the students that it is much more helpful to study for a short amount of time each day over a number of days, because the time will give their brain a chance to review the material, understand it more deeply, and commit it to long-term memory.
Ask the students for examples of topics they are studying in this class and in other classes. Try to get a broad range of topics, from mathematical concepts and vocabulary words to historical events, so that they understand these skills can be applied in a variety of areas.
Give the example of studying world geography: tell the students to imagine they have to learn the countries of the world and their capitals, and that the test is two weeks from today. Point out that thinking about the test this far in advance is the first skill that they must practice in order for all of the other ones to work.
Show how to use Handout One: Study Skills Resource form. Model filling it out for this scenario (learning world countries and capitals) or for a reading assignment with questions or outlining a chapter. Have the students practice filling it out with a partner.
Optional: have students make study cards, using the countries and capitals information on Handout Two.
Ask the students to think about the factors that may get in the way of effective studying (waiting until the last minute). This is also a good time to talk about positive habits, such as choosing a good place to study that is free of distractions and fully stocked with all the materials listed on the plan. Point out that having a water bottle nearby is also a good idea, to avoid the procrastination technique of getting up for a drink of water!
Have each student choose a topic that they are currently studying and practice on their own filling out a study plan sheet Handout One: Study Skills Resource.
Ask them to share their study plans with a partner or small group, then come together as a whole; ask several students to share their study plans with the group.
Display the RRAP chart made before class, and tell the students that they will be learning a strategy for taking tests. They’ll work on this process together and then have an opportunity to practice on their own.
Model the process of RRAP while thinking out loud using the first (most difficult) teacher prepared reading passage with questions (see Teacher Preparation).
Sample teacher text: "The first step in the RRAP process tells me to first read the questions and highlight any key words. Looking at question 1, I can see that ____ is a key word. I’m going to highlight that word to plant it in my memory. Question 2 shows this word that I think may be a key word. I’m going to highlight that word too. Looking at question 3, I suspect that this word may be important, so I’m going to highlight it too. Okay, now I’m going to read the text with these questions and key words in mind.”
The second step of RRAP is to read the passage. At this point the teacher (or a student) reads the text aloud while circling or highlighting phrases related to the key words and questions.
For the third step, address each question, demonstrate how to go back into the text to find their answers not merely relying on memory. Model thinking aloud as you write the response. Point out that students can include some of the question text in their answer.
Then move on to the final step (P for proofreading). They reread their answers and make sure to add/delete information, check that words from the text are spelled correctly, and confirm the response is grammatically correct.
Using the next toughest sample passage (from the Teacher Preparation), work through the RRAP process together, giving them a little more independence, but staying together and confirming answers.
The final step of the lesson is to give the students an opportunity, completely on their own, to practice this process with the easiest of the three chosen passages. The teacher can assist individual students, as needed.
Ask the students to reflect on how the process worked for them. Does it help them comprehend the text and find the answers?
Students may share with younger students the study skills they learned and teach them how they can prepare for a test.