Your teen may feel that there’s no way to study for an in-class essay or short answer test. He might say, when pressed, that he’s already memorized the info he needs to know. However, learning how to throw that knowledge together to create an essay is very handy practice the night before the test.
So, first he memorizes his history facts for the history test or gets to know the key plot, character and analysis info for an English test. Then, last thing on his list, he can take these steps:
- Create several questions to answer. He’ll probably have some sense of what’s important for the history unit or English novels on the test – key concepts, themes, conflicts, conclusions, questions. The teacher probably pointed to these things over the weeks and included them in any study guide she may have given out. His job is to write down several essay or short answer questions that he makes up based on what he thinks the teacher’s going to ask (this is a new skill, so your feedback might be needed).
- Answer them. He should then plan out how he would answer these questions:
- He can write down a few ideas that lay out and group the evidence for his argument.
- Better, he can create a little outline for each question – writing down a full thesis for the essay, arguments for the paragraphs (and short answers) and little bullets grabbing the key evidence for each body paragraph
- Best, he can also include written topic sentences for the body paragraphs (and short answers) choose specific quotes or other evidence for each paragraph and write out a paraphrased version of his thesis for the conclusion.
- Extra effective, he can actually write one or all of the essays or short answers (this takes longer prep time). He can do this timed to practice pacing.
By taking these steps, which shouldn’t take more than an hour, he’ll have practiced taking all those facts in his head and arranging them into an argument and grouping them into paragraphs. Even if none of the questions end up on the test, there’s bound to be some overlap around some of the content he’s practiced using. Much better than going in cold.