Thursday, February 28, 2008

How to deal with an exam that does not suit your learning style?

If your child has strong analytic preferences, how do you help her prepare for essay-type questions? Analytic children like facts and find it difficult to answer open-ended questions, particularly those that seek opinions and generalisations. Here are a few tips to help them cope:
· Read each question and identify which part or parts of the syllabus it can possibly refer to. For example, if they encounter a question like: “Do you think that a virus has good survival skills?”, teach them to ignore the potentially nonsensical notion of a virus having skills. Instead, ask them to concentrate on what the teacher actually wanted to know: something about rapid mutation, perhaps, or a hardy shell protecting the virus interior?
· When writing an essay-type answer, take a scrap sheet and jot down as many facts as you can remember. Now write a sentence for every one of those facts - that is your essay.
· If the question asks for your opinion, for example, was Hamlet really insane or was he just acting, again write down all the facts “for” and “against” the theory that he was insane. Can you make a decision? If you can, write your essay with that decision in mind. If you cannot, present a balanced argument and then end with something non-committal, like: “The jury is still out on that one”.

If your child has strong holistic preferences, she will not enjoy concentrating on details. Holistic children don’t like exam questions that ask to list facts, tabulate differences or fill in missing words. Some tips to help them cope:
· Learn the material by focussing on the big picture first, that way the facts will slot in more easily.
· Practice for the exam by identifying the facts and highlighting the important words (dates, names). Then cut out bits of cardboard to cover up the important words (you can stick them on with Prestik) and try to fill in the blanks.
· Remember that the purpose of the exam is to help you gain the knowledge you need.

To analyse your child’s learning style, have a look at this free online demo.

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