Homeschool Survival Guide:The Lazy Homeschooler’s Guide to Tests

Okay, so you didn’t study. That’s fine. I mean, no, that’s terrible! You should have studied. It’s a little too late for that, though, isn’t it? If you’re reading this, you presumably have a test due SOON that you were supposed to study for a month ago. Homeschoolers aren’t always exposed to the tips and tricks for not flunking tests, so I’ll clue you in on a few.

Several hours before a test:
Pen scan

“Pen Scan” is just my fancy way of saying quickly scan the chapter or material or whatever while writing down all the important stuff on paper as you go. It doesn’t matter whether or not you read it later (although that’s ideal in case you forget). As I’ve mentioned before, writing things down by hand actually helps commit them to memory. This is an excellent way to memorize a bunch of pointless facts.

Three/four hours before test:
Practice test

Even if you can’t afford time to do a full read-through, at least get the biggest mistakes out of the way. Practice tests are excellent if you can find some. On a subject like “Math,” “English,” “Social Studies” or anything else you’d be taking a test on in late high school homeschool/early college, there’s an online practice test for your material out there somewhere. If you can’t find a practice test, use Flash cards or anything else that’ll help you memorize the wrong answers and avoid them.

Two or so hours before test:
Just the highlights

Maybe you don’t even have time to punch stuff into your calculator and see the correct answer. If you only have this much time before a test, just gloss over the details and memorize the highlights. Key equations. Important terms. Bolded facts. Even if you did the two things above, I recommend a once-over of the highlights anyway at this point.

One hour before test:
Test-taking tips

Alright, this is it. No more time for emergency study. If your knowledge can’t keep you from getting a D or F, being good at tests alone may be your best bet. Here’s some tips to improve your grade with little or no effort at all.

  • Fill-in-the-definition

When faced with this type of problem (for example: “Sally sells seashells on the ______”), if you don’t know the answer, skip it and wait to see if it’s defined in a later problem. For example, a problem on the next page might be worded, “After selling seashells on the seashore, Sally _______.” You would then go back to the original problem and put “seashore” in the blank.

  • Multiple choice equations

For maths and sciences, this is a really helpful tip. If you don’t remember how to work a multiple choice problem (or only barely remember), try to come up with a few ways to solve it that seem like they might work and check your answer against the multiple choice answers. If you come up with one that’s awfully close to or exactly like one of the answers, mark it off. If you come up with two or more answers that resemble the multiple choice answers, either guess or use common sense (an ice cube is probably not 3*10^-3 cm in width). If you come up with nothing, either guess or leave it blank and wait to see if you can figure out or infer the right method of working the problem from a later question.

  • Write out everything you know

Some teachers will actually tell you this one. If you just can’t remember how to do the problem right, write out everything you know about the problem and material. Either you’ll come up with a way to figure it out as you write or you (at least) might get partial credit. Hey, -4 is better than -5, and any answer is better than a blank box.

This should be enough to boost your grade at least five points (which can make the difference between a D and a C). Hopefully you’ll study harder next time, but if not, at least your laziness isn’t as devastating. Tune in next week to Homeschool Survivor for more tips from a home-grown procrastinator!

February 11, 2013


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