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Cathie Grannary (parent)
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Study Skills with Lani

At Beacon Literacy we offer one on one study skills sessions currently provided by our literacy expert, Lani Donaldson.  Lani will teach each student the different ways to study, retain information or help them put their thoughts on paper.  Most students will start with a session on how to manage their time, since a lot of students seem to have great difficulty with that.  Once they find out how to divide their time wisely between home work, sports and family time, they will learn more about the different ways to study depending on what their needs are.

Free Study Skills Survey Assessment (Approx: 30 min.) available for both Elementary, Junior High and High School Students (Includes a 30 minutes review and consultation):

In keeping with our belief that knowledge is power, The Beacon Team now offers free, no obligation study skills assessments.  This assessment will screen students’ skill levels in a variety of crucial areas of educational success, including:  Managing Study Time and Routines, Reading and Interpreting Visual Aids, Reading and Taking Notes from Text Books, Taking Notes in Class, Remembering Information, Preparing and Writing Tests, and Finding Main Ideas.    

Click on this link to download our PDF with all the details about the course outline.

"Thank you for all your great advice and tips, they are definitely helping me with my diplomas. Also found that after talking to you I had a more positive attitude towards tests and more self confidence.Thank you again." (A.P. ~ Hanna, AB)

In the meantime, here are Lani's top 10 study skills tips:

TIP #1

Be Prepared:  Like a good Boy or Girl Scout, one must be prepared.  There is nothing better for successful exam writing than knowing the material.  There is no substitution and no quick fix when you have not learned the material.  This is obviously a skill that you must develop as the semester goes on.  To be thoroughly prepared for an exam you should be able to “crunch down” all the information you will need for your exam on one piece of paper.  Why?  Because that is about as much as the brain can remember. 

Jot down key terms or concepts that trigger your memory to provide more information.  By doing that you can easily fit an entire semester’s information on one side of one sheet of no bigger than 81/2 by 11paper.  In order to get this done you will need to set up a study schedule at least three weeks before exams start. If you didn’t there is no time like the present.

Tip # 2

Curb it:  Exam anxiety can lead to poor exam performance.  Anxiety is usually triggered by lack of mental preparation.  If you don’t know your material it is difficult to be confident going into an exam. Too much caffeine, to little or too much sleep can also lead to exam anxiety. 

Hanging out with friends (especially those who are “freaking out”) just prior to going into an exam is deadly.  You tend to pick up their energy and you will become jittery yourself.  Try to avoid the trap of quizzing each other just before going into the exam.  More than one student has bombed an exam because they were doing this before entering the exam and someone asked a question they couldn’t answer thus torpedoing their confidence and thus triggering exam anxiety.

Tip# 3

Dump It:  As soon as you sit down at you exam table/desk/chair/perch, whatever you want to call it, grab a piece of scrap paper.  Take the scrap paper and proceed to write down everything you know about the subject you are going to take the exam on.  Jot down definitions, formulas, sequences – everything your brain is desperately trying to hang onto.  This technique is known as a “brain dump” and it allows you to release all of that ‘held in knowledge” and thus lower your anxiety levels before you begin the exam.  Now you have your very own “info sheet” available to you for the duration of the exam.


Read It:  ALWAYS read the instructions carefully.  Not reading all of the instructions carefully has lead more than one student down the path to failure.  Make sure you know what is required from you during the exam.  Are there specific questions you have to answer?  Do you get to choose from a group of questions or do you have to answer them all?   Are you penalized for guessing at answers?  Ask for clarification if you are unsure.

Tip# 5

Preview and Budget:  It is important to know how many questions are on the exam and how much time you have.  E.g.  60 minutes and 60 questions would allow you a comfortable time frame of a minute per question.  Some questions may take you less than 20 seconds to answer so you will actually gain more time for those difficult ones.

Read through the entire exam and rank questions as easy, medium or hard.  ( E.g.  If you need to read a three page article and then there are only 2 questions = 1 mark each rank these are hard because you have to do a lot of work for just two marks.)  Once you have gone through the exam and ranked all the questions go through and answer all the easy ones first.  This will increase your confidence and you will likely find the answers to those medium and hard questions along the way.

 * If one of the questions sparks an idea mark it down on your “brain dump” sheet so you won’t forget it.

Tip# 6

Attack and Conquer:  Once you begin to answer the exam questions, read the question carefully and underline key words.  Is it a multi-answer question or very straight forward.  What are you being asked to do?  See if you can answer it without looking at the multiple choice offerings.  Once you have done that, read ALL of the selections even if your answer appears.  Why?  There may be a better answer.

If it is a short answer question then briefly jot down the steps you need to take in order to answer or solve the question. Then proceed with your plan.

Tip# 7

Answer everything:  Write down something for every question (providing you are not penalized for guessing).  If you are running out of time on a short answer or essay exam answer the question in point form (partial marks are better than no marks at all).  In short write down anything that you feel is related to the question.

Tip# 8

Drawing a blank:  Stay calm; this is why we rank questions.  Mark it as hard and move to easier questions.  Your subconscious will work on it while you are going through the questions you can answer.  If by the time you return to that question and you have completed the rest of the exam and you still do not have a complete answer then simply follow the baby step method.  What do I need to know to answer this question?  Start writing down your thoughts about the “how to”; in other words focus on the task at hand.  Avoid negative self talk.  Look you have finished all of the other questions and only this one is taking you extra time. Look over your “brain dump sheet to see if there are any clues there.  Eventually the answer/process will come.

Tip# 9

Review and Correct:  Take the time to review your exam and double check your answers.  Do not change an answer unless you are 100% sure that it needs to be changed.  If you can logically justify the change then do so.  For math questions check your answers by doing reverse calculations.  Look at the question in detail and make sure you have included everything that was asked for in your answer.

Tip# 10

Hang in there till the end:  Stay until the very end of the exam.  Sometime it simply takes time for you brain to release up all of its stored information so give it the time and respect it deserves.  Don’t let those people who walk out early unnerve you.  They may have simply given up and handed in there exam and are now out in the hallway crying the blues.

Believe in yourself.  If you have properly prepared there is nothing that can stop you!

Good luck!