Test Success: Test-Taking and Study Strategies for All Students, Including Those with ADD and LD

Test Success: Test-Taking and Study Strategies for All Students, Including Those with ADD and LD

by Blythe Grossberg, PsyD


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Offering middle school and high school students strategies to succeed on every type of test—from multiple-choice to standardized to essay tests—this book shows students how to maximize their time and skills. With successful, real-life strategies shared by students, this guide will also help students of all levels, including those with ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities, learn study skills, strategies to handle their anxiety concerning tests, and how to have a mental edge. Teachers and parents can additionally use this book to help students perform better in school.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781886941724
Publisher: Specialty Press/A.D.D. Warehouse
Publication date: 04/01/2009
Pages: 125
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Blythe Grossberg, PsyD, is a learning specialist at the Collegiate School in New York City, and the author of Making ADD Work. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Read an Excerpt

Test Success

Test-Taking and Study Strategies for All Students, Including Those with ADD and LD

By Blythe Grossberg, Peter Welleman

Specialty Press, Inc.

Copyright © 2009 Blythe Grossberg, Psy.D.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-886941-72-4


Shopping for a Learning Style

Discover Your Learning Style: Finding the Perfect Fit

This book starts with a shopping expedition. You'll get to try on different learning styles and decide which one suits you best. Instead of finding the best fit for a new pair of sneakers, you'll be looking for the way of studying that's the most natural to you. Just as you feel most comfortable in the pair of shoes that conforms best to your foot, you'll feel the most comfortable studying for tests if you find the way of learning that conforms to the way your mind works. The idea behind shopping for a learning style is that you can bring a lot of yourself to the process of studying for and taking tests. Throughout this book, you will find strategies that work for you. You can pick and choose the tips that you think will work, and you don't have to try those you think aren't right for you.

Make sense of your senses: Understanding how you primarily take in information.

The first step in customizing the way you learn is to understand how you take in information. People vary in which sense they prioritize when absorbing new material. Some people remember information best when they see it. These types of learners are visual in nature. Other people are auditory learners who tend to recall information that they hear — these are the types of students who often compose songs to study for tests. Finally, there are students who are kinesthetic and have to use their bodies to act out information. They remember best what they do — not what they see or hear.

We of course use all our senses all the time, but we may favor one over the other. To understand which type of learner you are, start by taking this short test. Don't worry — this is the fun sort of test that tells you more about yourself (and what could be more interesting?). After the test, you'll learn how to use your primary sense to make studying more interesting and to recall the information with greater ease.


Are you an auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learner?

Place a check mark next to the statements that describe you.

Auditory learners:

____I remember words when they are put to a beat or to music.

____I remember material that I hear presented aloud without taking any notes.

____I prefer spoken directions over written directions.

__I don't often understand diagrams or graphs without an explanation.

____I like to talk through problems.

Visual Learners:

____I prefer written directions rather than oral directions.

____I like to take notes to understand material.

____I understand graphs and charts.

____I remember what I read.

____I like to use color to remember material.

Kinesthetic Learners:

____I'm good at building objects.

____I can put together puzzles easily.

____I'm constantly gesturing with my hands.

____Once I do an activity, I remember how to do it.

____I don't often remember what was said or seen.

Count up the number of check marks.

Auditory: ____

Visual: ____

Kinesthetic: ____

Which type of learner are you? _____________________________

Does this news surprise you? ______________________________

Read below to find out more about your learning style and how to use your style to make studying easier and more enjoyable. If you have two primary learning styles or one primary learning style with a close second, read the potential strategies for both styles.


Auditory Learners

If you are primarily an auditory learner, you need to hear material to remember it. You may enjoy music, and putting information into the form of a song may help you recall it. In school, you may be the kind of student who has to hear the information presented aloud in class to have it stick in your mind. Discussion-oriented classes may help you retain the material, and you may find yourself playing through what was said in class as if it were a soundtrack.

Here are some techniques that can help you learn in the classroom and study at home. Place check marks next to those you think will help you:

____Make up songs to remember material, such as historical dates or vocabulary words.

____Talk through information, or engage in a discussion about the material.

____Listen to books on tape, which are available at stores or through Recordings for the Blind and
Dyslexic (see "Helpful Books and Websites" at the end of the book).

____Repeat information aloud for as many times as it takes you to remember it.

____Use language to explain complicated graphs or diagrams.

____Record classes (if acceptable to your teacher) and play them back while studying.

____Use your iPod or MP3 Player to record material and listen to it repeatedly.

Visual Learners:

If you are a visual learner, you recall what you see. You most likely learn well when teachers write information on the board, and when you take notes. You need to make study guides that involve writing out the material. In addition, you can use tools such as semantic maps that make visual connections between different parts of the material. Here is a simple kind of semantic map of the U.S. federal court system:

This so-called semantic map shows the connections between different concepts — in this case, the organization of different courts. The diagram helps you make visual connections that reinforce what you know. You can draw these types of charts yourself while studying, or you can use a software program such as Inspiration (available online at inspiration.com) to help you.

Color may also help you remember information. For example, you can use different-colored flash cards to recall information. If you are trying to remember vocabulary words, you can make all nouns red, all verbs blue, and all adjectives yellow.

Here is a list of some techniques that build on a visual learning style:

____Use a program such as Inspiration (available online at inspiration.com) to map out material.

____Make your own semantic map (see the example above) to draw relationships between parts of the material you need to know.

____Integrate color into your studying: for example, use different colors for words of different parts of speech.

____Use different colored highlighter pens when you are annotating, or taking notes on your reading.

____Use charts and flash cards.

____Be sure to take notes during class, and use them to study.

Kinesthetic Learners

If you are a kinesthetic learner, you learn by doing. You need to use your hands or your body to act out information or to put things together. You may enjoy building things and doing sports. In the earlier grades, it's easier to use your kinesthetic sense. You can work on arts and crafts and drama projects such as posters, performances, and dioramas. You are most likely the star of plays, science fairs, art classes, and the sports field.

However, as you get into middle and high school, you may find it more difficult to use your kinesthetic sense. You may find it difficult even to sit still in the classroom, as you tend to learn by walking around. Unlike in the classroom, however, you can use different study techniques at home that build on your kinesthetic style. Here are some potential study strategies:

____Act out the information. Pretend, for example, that you are a figure in history or a famous scientist you are studying.

____Make art work or a physical object related to the material you are studying, such as a model of a volcano or the solar system.

____Walk around while studying. You can even study different subjects in different rooms of your school or house so you recall the information when you're in that room. Try studying in the classroom where you will take a test.

____Post information on your walls and shoot a soft ball at it while reciting it aloud.

____Use flash cards that you build with, shuffle, and arrange on your desk or floor.

Special Study Strategies for Athletes, Artists, Musicians, and Actors

If you are an athlete, artist, musician, or actor, you have special talents that you are accustomed to using outside the classroom. What you may not know is that you can use your talents to study for tests to make your preparation more effective and fun.

Music to your ears.

If you are a musician, your ears can help you not only in music class but in all your work. Your teacher may not be musical, but you can rearrange the material you are studying to make it more musical in nature. You are most likely an auditory learner (see the section above), and you learn best by putting material to music. Have you ever written a song about the material you are studying? You might try this technique and the others that follow to help you make your studying more enjoyable and productive.

____Listen to familiar music as you study. Think of this music when you are taking a test to make the material come back to you.

____Rearrange material so that you can make rhymes or jingles out of it. Then sing it to yourself or put it to music.

____Record classroom discussions (if acceptable to your teacher) and play them back while listening to soft music in the background.

Real-life strategy: Jake, a guitar player, had a hard time memorizing vocabulary terms in biology until he recorded them and put them onto his iPod. He listened to them many times on the way to and from school until he had them firmly in his head. In addition, his teacher realized that Jake would understand the biology multiple-choice test questions better if she read them aloud to Jake. Once Jake heard the questions aloud, he was able to answer them more correctly and recall what he knew. These strategies boosted his grade in biology and gave Jake more confidence and a greater willingness to use this technique to study French vocabulary words using his iPod as well.

Acting out.

"All the world's a stage," wrote Shakespeare. If you enjoy acting, you can use your craft while studying. Acting is a complete sensory experience in which you use your body, voice, and emotions before the audience. You can use these same senses to encode, or store, information for school. Actors also tend to be good at remembering their lines, and their minds have been honed to recall a lot of verbal information. You can use this gift while studying. Some of the actors I've met have been able to recite long strings of information backward and forward because they've developed techniques for memorizing lines. For example, some actors imagine words or scenes in their heads, while others need to recite their lines out loud before a mirror to remember them. The following are some strategies adapted from the stage that you can also use at your desk:

____Read the information from your textbook or notes out loud in a dramatic voice before the mirror. Use the appropriate physical expressions and facial gestures. For example, if you are studying information about how the Soviets were angry at
Americans for possessing the atomic bomb during the
Cold War, adopt a menacing tone and a threatening grimace.

____Read the information from your textbook or class notes back and forth with a friend. You are used to memorizing dialogue, and reading the information with a partner will allow you to use your ability to recall other people's lines, as well as your own, from hearing them spoken aloud.

____Build on the same technique you use to memorize your lines to memorize information for school. If you tend to picture your lines in your head, for example, use the same technique to memorize material for tests.

____Without going overboard and becoming a total ham, you can be a bit dramatic in class. While listening in class, use your actors' techniques to respond to the teachers' comments with physical gestures.

Scoring points on and off the field.

Athletes can use the determination and drive they have on the field in the classroom. If you are an athlete, you understand the value of the drill — of repeating the same skill again and again until you get it right. You can use your willingness to practice, your ability to concentrate, and your love of the game to do well in school. You are also most likely able to come up with a play — whether it's a soccer goal or a basket or an ace — in a clutch moment. Your ability to stay focused when the game is on the line can help you on test day as well as on game day. These strategies build on the athlete's temperament and willingness to work hard:

____Use your patience to practice drills on and off the field. Just as you would practice a foul shot again and again, you can use the same types of drills to remember information. Quiz yourself repeatedly about information by shuffling through flash cards. For each card you miss, make yourself practice it again and again until you get it right.

____Put your whole self into studying, and use your game to study. For example, place vocabulary words or flash cards with the information you need to know (historical names and dates, math formulas, etc.) on the back of a basketball hoop and shoot baskets at it until you remember it. You can also kick a soccer ball against an outside wall with the information on it.

____Use the same techniques you've perfected to stay calm during a key moment in a game — whether it's shooting a foul shot, kicking a penalty shot, or batting when you have two strikes — to stay clear and focused during a test.

____Plan your studying time so that you are not too tired; after a difficult game, you may be too worn out to pay attention to studying. Instead, before studying, you may want to do some light exercise — such as a short run or twenty minutes outside kicking a soccer ball — to help keep you relaxed and alert.

Make an art out of studying.

If you are an artist, you can put your artistic skills to work making the information you need to know for school more beautiful and easier to understand. When you are studying, take out your colored pencils and markers and use color and illustrations to accompany written words. Artists tend to think in creative, non-linear ways (meaning that they don't always go directly from point A to B but enjoy diversions along the way), and the strategies below may help rearrange material creatively to make it more enjoyable and comprehensible:

____Use color for flash cards or for any material that has different parts — such as different parts of speech, masculine and feminine words in foreign languages, different operations in math, different parts of the body in biology, etc.

____Draw material, when possible, instead of reading it. For example, you can draw a chart of the respiratory system instead of reading about it in a textbook.

____Use semantic maps (see the example above) to make connections between material. For example, if you are studying the organization of the U.S. court system, draw each type of court in a bubble and connect them in terms of their hierarchy or importance using arrows.

____Illustrate scenes in books that you are reading. Drawing a detailed scene will help you remember the characters' personality, mood, setting, and plot.


My primary learning style is__________: (kinesthetic, visual, or auditory)

If I have a close second, it is:__________

Write down the top five study techniques from this chapter that you think will help you.


Beating the Clock: Time-Management Strategies

Developing a Study Schedule

If Procrastination were a class, most students would receive an A+. They have mastered the art of IMing, surfing the Web, going on to Facebook, talking on the phone, playing World of Warcraft, and just staring into space instead of studying. After a day of classes, after-school activities, sports, and work, very few students have the mental fire-power left to burn the midnight oil preparing for tests. That's why it's critical to break up your studying over time and use the moments you have to the fullest. You want to make sure to capitalize on the times you feel energized to fit in a few minutes of high-quality work. If you study when you are alert, you will find that you are more productive, saving you precious moments to devote to watching your favorite shows and IMing your friends.

Here's the main rule about studying:

Tip#1: Break down your studying into small, manageable bits.

While you may want to procrastinate as much as possible, you will actually feel less pain if you divide the bitter pill of studying into smaller units of time. If you study when you are better rested, you will also make better use of each minute, allowing yourself to have free time to devote to worthier pursuits, such as video games and Facebook.

Studies have shown that cramming the night before an exam is not effective for the vast majority of students. Your mind needs time to process new information, and while some lucky students are fortunate enough to be able to cram and do well, most are not able to study all the material the night before a big test. Some tests — such as those in history and science — require such a great deal of memorization that students need to work on familiarizing themselves with the material over several nights. The night before the test should be reserved for mastering last-minute details, integrating or putting together the material, and getting a good night's sleep to be fresh on the test day.


Excerpted from Test Success by Blythe Grossberg, Peter Welleman. Copyright © 2009 Blythe Grossberg, Psy.D.. Excerpted by permission of Specialty Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Shopping for a Learning Style,
Beating the Clock: Time-Management Strategies,
Playing and Winning the Testing "Game",
Becoming Jane Austen: Acing Essay Tests,
Einstein Made Easy: Outwitting Math Tests,
Useful for Jeopardy: Mastering Tests that Require Memorization,
Taking the Sting out of Pop Quizzes,
Winning the Guessing Game: How to Take Multiple-Choice Tests,
Standardized Tests: State-Mandated Tests and College-Entrance Tests,
Getting and Using Accommodations in School,
Using Your Results to Improve,
Helpful Books and Websites,
Summary of What I Learned from this Book,
Teacher Worksheets and Classroom Exercises,

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