This is the fifth and last of five blog posts I ended up writing when I was reviewing the exam wrappers from our first Module Assessment of this school year. For more details, please see the blog post on Partnering with Students for background information if interested.
The Power of Exam Wrappers: Part Five
Building Good Test-Taking and Study Skills
One of the things I am grateful for when I give and review an Exam Wrapper is how the Wrappers give me organic opportunities to support students in individualizing opportunities to build good study habits and test-taking skills. There are plenty of canned programs that claim to teach these habits and skills, but, as with any program or curriculum, they are undercut by variability. There are kids who are masters at time management…there are kids who can’t figure out that the checkboxes are there to be checked off. There are kids who see the patterns in the material, such as the student whose self-designed template led to our design of templates for every Module…there are other kids for whom every day, every problem is brand new.
Using the Exam Wrappers allows me to identify students who need some direct instruction or tweaking in their study habits, such as this student:
When I asked him to tell me what he meant in his comment, he said that he did well…on the material he had studies, but not so well on the rest of the material. That led to a discussion about how he needs to plan out his studying across multiple nights, as we had always intended, and to check in with the study guide to ensure that he is covering all topics.
Another repeat topic that comes up is building good test-taking skills. Test-taking skills are hard to teach, especially as every child and every test is different. For example, one student might want a verbal warning at the half-way mark, but another student might experience stress from hearing that. I like that, with the Wrapper, I can discuss situations individually with students, such as this one:
Our tests do have a time limit, so we often work with students to help them experience a reduction in pressure around the time limit, rather than feeling it as overwhelming. I also emphasize that really good preparation makes the testing experience less stressful, a reality that I believe is true across all tests, from MCAS to SATs.