This study technique will help your teen make sure their ‘semester study’ is focused on preparing for the types of questions that will come up in their exams and other forms of assessment.
PLUS — it will help your teen stay on track during semester, as they focus on how what they’re learning in school will be assessed.
This technique is something that I have only started applying regularly this year, but I so wish someone had told me about it years ago!
Luckily your teen doesn’t have to wait until the end of university to put this technique to use!
How it works
The idea of this study technique is to frame your revision around the types of questions the exam (or other assessment) is going to ask.
The best way to explain is to use an example…
Let’s say your teen is studying for Biology, specifically, mitosis and meiosis (cell division for those who need a refresher!). Because these topics are so central to the subject, and have been a huge focus of class time, your teen knows with certainty that they will be assessed on both of these topics in the exam.
The simple way of studying mitosis and meiosis would be to systematically go through the steps of each process, first for mitosis and then for meiosis.
Doing this would be a good starting point, to make sure you were familiar with the two different processes. BUT — if I wanted to absolutely ace the inevitable question on cell division, while studying I would ask myself — ‘what type of question on mitosis and meiosis am I going to be asked?’
Exam questions are designed to force you to have to think about the question before answering it. This means that your teen is unlikely to get a question like, “What are the steps of mitosis?”
Rather, a classic Biology exam question is, “Compare and contrast the cellular division processes of mitosis and meiosis”.
If your teen had simply studied the steps of mitosis and meiosis, they would probably answer this question adequately, but they would absolutely nail it if, while they had studied, they had also focused on the similarities and differences between the two processes.
You could do this really simply. For instance, your teen could set out two columns in their study notes, one for each process, and use one color pen to list the similarities of mitosis and meiosis and another color to list the differences.
This is only a subtle change from simply studying the two processes separately, but by using this type of study technique, your teen will have incorporated practising answering assessment questions while they study.
This technique will ensure that your teen anticipates their assessment questions while they study, meaning they will have already thought about what the assessment will test them on.
How this technique can massively impact results
This study technique could be the ‘ah-ha!’ moment your teen is looking for.
For all those students that actually do put in the study hours but don’t get the grades they were hoping for, making this relatively simple change to their study process should enhance their ability to convey to examiners that they really understand the ‘issue’ that’s embedded in the question.
To get those top grades, examiners are often looking for that little bit extra — that in depth understanding — something that separates your teen’s answer from the rest of the pack.
Obviously your teen cannot predict the exact questions that are going to come up in assessments, but they should be able to making a fairly good guess at the types of questions that are likely to come up, like my mitosis/meiosis compare and contrast example.
There is no point in your teen spending hours studying something in such a way that’s not going to help them answer an assessment question.
After all, your teen is never going to get an exam question that says ‘Write down everything you studied about this topic’.
It is essential that your teen studies in a way that connects what they’re studying to the assessment, and this simple study technique can help your teen do exactly that, simply and easily.