The school year is about to close, and that means exam time. For some students, it's the third quarterly exams; for others, it's their fourth. In short, it's probably "hell week" for your kids and you. While grades should not define our kids' academic development, we always want them to do well. How can we help?
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have found the optimum time to take a test. Researchers from the Danish National Center for Social Research looked at two million test scores of children aged eight to 15, and found that the earlier the students take the exam (like eight in the morning), the better they fared.
"If they have a test later in the day, they will have been in class for hours before taking the test. Our ability to focus, make decisions and react is affected by cognitive fatigue," Dr. Hans Henrik Sievertsen, an education researcher at the center and the study's lead author, explained to Huffington Post via email.
The study also found that taking 20- to 30-minute breaks also improved the student's test scores. The researchers argue that eating a snack, allowing the mind to rest and getting some fresh air and a little movement, could be the reason behind this.
Thankfully, a lot of exams for elementary and high school students are scheduled in the morning, but there is more we can do to help him ace those tests!
* Meet with your child's teacher to determine your child's strengths and weaknesses. Most teachers will be more than willing to talk about your child's school performance. Some schools actually make it a mandatory meeting. This way if he needs more practice in multiplication, for example, then you can allot pockets of time every other day or so before the exams to review his Math.
* When it's time to focus and study for the exams, make sure your child take 15-minutes breaks to unwind and relax. Cramming will not improve his test scores. What's even more helpful? Try making up games that tackle some of the topics of the exams. Learning through play, remember? It does heaps of benefits for kids.
* Aside from learning through play, studies have also proven that kids learn and retain information better when you engage their senses. Try some hands-on learning: watch a video about photosynthesis, for example, or visit the history museum for dioramas of historic events.
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* Yes, those exam reviewers really help. One reason for nerves before exam day is you don't know what or how exactly it will go. Make a practice test for your kids to help ease those fears. Incorporate different types of tests such as multiple choice, essay, true or false. That way, your child has an idea what to expect. Tip: take a cue from the quizzes the kids have had during the quarter.
* Discuss test-talking strategies with your child. Relaxation techniques such as giving himself a pep talk before starting the exam helps. Take time to read the instructions and questions, and asking the exam proctor clarify a direction, if possible. Tips such as skipping the difficult questions at first and then reviewing all answers if there's time left are just little ways that the kids could find really helpful. Tell them not to worry if other students finish before them; every child has his own pacing. Remind them to write neatly, too.
* Sleep and eat well. It's not advisable to have kids stay up all night to study. The brain needs sleep to recharge. There's a fair chance the kids wouldn't remember what they read the night before if they don't get enough sleep. Also make sure they get breakfast before rushing to school; an empty stomach can be a distraction. Better yet, don't rush to school; be early to let kids have time to prepare mentally.
* Keep things positive and light right before your child heads out to school . Telling him about the consequences if he doesn't do well only adds to the pressure. Rather, give him a boost of confidence: "You can do this. Just do your best. I love you no matter what." And follow through your words, when you receive his test or report card.
Source February 22, 2016. "Scientists Reveal The Best Time Of Day To Take An Exam" (huffingtonpost.com)