Essential Study Tips from Spelling Tests to High School Exams

study tips

Is Your Child Using the Best Study Tips?

Does Your Child Know the Most Proven Study Tips Which Link to Brain Science?

Many children and teens don’t actually know how to study.  They haven’t learned any study tips.

I’ve met many children/teens who are not using the most efficient study methods and therefore not being as productive with their studying as they could be.

Fortunately, Terry Small, an international learning skills specialist, offers excellent presentations on this topic, and students as well as parents are encouraged to attend his talks.  I saw Terry present several years ago, and his study tips are still relevant today.  (Many of the tips below come from Terry Small’s presentation).

As soon as children start studying for spelling tests, we can teach some study tips so they become second nature by the time high school comes around.

Let’s start with spelling tests and move up from there…

#1 Study Tip:  Active vs. Passive

Studying needs to be active not passive.  Just reading over spelling words or notes is very passive to the brain.  Highlighting is slightly more active but still not very engaging.

For spelling tests, it’s best for the child to have an adult read out the words and the child write them down, or the child can record him/herself saying the words (with long enough pauses in-between each word) and then write down each word.  It’s also really fun for younger kids to use a white board and to get a chance at being the teacher and call out the spelling words for the parent to write down.  The teacher (the child) then corrects the student (the parent).  (Parents be sure to get at least a couple of words wrong!)

For older children studying for tests with a lot of content, their notes need to be written in a question and answer format (the Cornell system).  For example, one could fold a piece of paper in half (vertically) and write the questions in the left hand column and the answers in the right hand column.  Then fold the paper over, ask oneself, the questions and check the answers at the end.

Why Is The Question and Answer Format So Important?

Terry Small explains that when you ask your brain a question, it wakes up the brain and the brain pays more attention.  Asking the brain a question, is like putting the key in the ignition of your car to get the engine started.

Flashcards are also highly recommended.  This is a tried-and-true method that I always used when I was in elementary school (starting with times tables) and all through high school.  With flashcards, one writes the term or question on one side and the definition or answer on the reverse side.  As you test yourself, you create three piles for the cards….1) got the answer right away 2) got the answer but it took a while 3) I didn’t know the answer.  Once you’ve gone through all the cards, you keep going with the number 2 and number 3 piles until they all belong in the number 1 pile!

What Is A Good App for Flashcards?

Quizlet App and Quizlet website

This app has many excellent features.  You can create digital flashcards and then test yourself after.

The app will also create a test for you based on all the information you have entered.  The test is a combination of multiple choice, write the term (based on a definition) match terms and definitions from two columns, and true or false.  At the completion of the test it will let you know what percentage of questions you got right, which is very motivating.

Within the app, you can create a class and invite friends to join so that friends can work together in a small group (but from individual homes).  Each friend can be responsible for creating questions from predetermined sections of the text book and then the whole group can put their questions together and test themselves using the Quizlet program.

Another great feature is that Quizlet will synch your computer with your iPod or smart phone.  Now you can study your flashcards on the school bus.

#2 Study Tip:  Use Colour

What colour does the brain most pay attention to?  Yes, RED

Therefore, it is a good answer to write the answers to your questions or your definitions in red.

#3 Study Tip:  Use Movement

When you stand up you remember more.

When you take movement breaks, it helps you remember better.  Terry Small recommends taking a break according to your age +2 (for example, a 12 year old would take a movement break every fourteen minutes).  For all people 18 years+,  he recommends taking a break every twenty  minutes.

Here’s a previous article that discusses an excellent visual and silent timer to help with studying and other tasks.

#4 Study Tip:  Nourish Your Brain

Drink water to help your memory.

Eat snacks such as two raisins and unsalted walnuts (considered to be “brain food”).

Play relaxing Baroque music (this includes Vivaldi, Bach, Scarlatti, Pachelbel, and Handel) to keep the brain in a calm and ready-to-learn state vs. trying to study in front of a TV or while listening to any other music that is not Baroque.

#5 Study Tip: Set Goals

Study with intention!  Write down what you want to get on an upcoming test and put it in front of you.

Take last term’s report card, and write down next to each subject area, what letter grade you think you are realistically striving for next term.  Create several copies of this and post them in visible places – your bedroom, your bathroom, above your homework space etc.

“You are what you think you are”.  Terry Small suggest writing “I am a genius” on a piece of paper and posting this in visible places too.  As he says, advertising works!  The more we see something, the more we believe it!

#6 Study Tip:  Create Mnemonics  (little tricks to help remember larger pieces of information)

In 1967 Gerald R. Miller proved that regularly using mnemonics increased test scores up to 77%!

Musical mnemonic:  Sing the information.  This is why we first learn the alphabet in the form of a song.

Name mnemonic: Make a name where each letter is the beginning letter for some information.  Example:  The colours of the rainbow = ROYGBIV

Expression or word mnemonic:  Create a phrase or a word where the beginning letter of each word cues you to a list of words you need to remember.  For example, the cardinal points of the compass:  Naughty Elephants Squirt Water (North, East, South, West)

Model mnemonic:  Create a pyramid, a pie graph, a flow chart etc. to remember information.  This method works well in addition to a word mnemonic.  An example could be the four food groups.  Many brains learn better with a visual image.

Rhyme mnemonic:  Create a rhyme to help you remember information.  How many of us learned… In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Image mnemonic:  Create a picture that helps you remember information.  For example to remember the difference between there and their…  write out “there” with the “r” looking like a sign post pointing to the right to indicate “over there”, write out “their” with the letter “i” looking like a person – the dot is the person’s head and the stick is the person’s body.

Connection mnemonic:  Help yourself to remember something by connecting to something that you already know.  For example, imagine the horizon to help you remember horizontal vs. vertical.

Spelling mnemonic:  Use words within words to syllables to help you remember the word.  For example, A principal at a school is your pal, and a principle you believe or follow is a rule.

All the best for a successful term and here’s hoping these study tips will ease some stress, and increase your child’s mastery level,



study tips

PS.  If you found this information useful, please share with your friends and family using the social media buttons or forwarding by email.  Also, please show your “like” on my Facebook page here.  Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.

Here’s a related article about the drive for success and connected stress…

If you child is studying a lot and trying really hard but doesn’t seem to be getting the marks to reflect all of his/her efforts you  may want to consider a private psycho-educational assessment to get a deeper look at how your child’s brain is learning and if there any learning disabilities occurring.  Here’s an article that explains the process further.

PPS.  Registration for my upcoming “Brain Science” groups to teach children ages 7-9rs. and 10-12 yrs. about anxiety and anxiety management strategies is now full.  You can put your name on the waiting list here.  I will be running more “Brain Science” groups in the Spring and will announce when registration is open, here on the blog.

*Registration for my upcoming Self-EmPOWERment groups is now open.  You can find out more information and register here. (Click on “upcoming groups” and scroll down.)

To receive my free ebook, 7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When My Child Is Anxious and receive free weekly parenting tips from me, click here and scroll down.

For members of my Toddler to Teen Parenting Solutions Online Course, the next live Q & A session will be on Wednesday, January 18th at 1pm.  The link for submitting your questions is now embedded on the welcome page of the course.  Please feel free to submit your questions anytime.




Want to Connect?

Subscribe now to receive free weekly parenting tips and inspiration.

Powered by ConvertKit