5 Simple steps to help your tween or teen study for a test

May 31, 2011 at 10:55 a.m. ET

Test anxiety is no fun for kids or moms. Teens and tweens are stressed out enough on a normal day, and when you throw in a huge exam, frustration can take everyday whining into a full-blown meltdown. Knowing you're there can help make the study process a whole lot easier for your child.

Mom helping teen daughter study

Plan ahead

Most students get a syllabus for each class or will at least know in advance when a test is scheduled. Many teachers now post information on coursewebs or blogs. A week before the test, help your child organize notes, and make flashcards of important dates, formulas or vocabulary words.

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Divide and conquer

A few days before the test, help your child divide his notes into three categories: "Strong spots", "Iffy spots" and "Trouble spots." By doing this, your child can set aside things that need a quick review and focus his attention on the difficult material.


If there is going to be a written portion of the test, help your child outline the main themes in the chapters or lesson. This is a great way to help your child maneuver between specific events and big-picture ideas.

>> Standardized test anxiety

Break it down

Long cram sessions the night before a test often leave kids overtired and shaky on the material. Instead, opt for several 20- to 30-minute study sessions in the days before the test. Shorter sessions help kids stay focused on the task at hand and allow a break when the mind starts to wander.

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Sleep and eat

Make sure your child has a full night's sleep the night before a big test. It helps takes the edge off, and her mind will be sharp and attentive. Also, don't let her go into a test hungry -- it inhibits focus and can cause increased frustration and irritability.

>> Help teens get the sleep they need

You can help your kids prepare for tests, even if you aren't a math wiz or history buff. All it takes is organization, time-structuring and a lot of encouragement. If you make sure your child has everything he needs before he sits down for a study session, the process will be a lot less agonizing and perhaps offer a great bonding experience. Happy studying!

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