Friday, November 11, 2011
Study Skills and The Wall Street Journal
Toni Whalen is an instructor with Victory Step.
A recent Wall Street Journal article addressed a pressing question that most students have, especially with their SAT’s and ACT’s coming up. The article, “Toughest Exam Question: What is the best way to study?” does not specifically outline how you should prepare for each and every test. It does, however, give some good, general advice to young scholars that can help them to retain information.
The article touches, directly and indirectly, on two main parts of Victory Step’s test preparation strategy. First, the article covers how repetitive studying helps students best retain information. Of course, studying for the SAT is not quite like studying for a history exam. You cannot simply memorize names, dates and facts in order to pass this sort of exam. What you can do, though, is practice the same sorts of skills over and over in order to build them up so that you will be ready for any question they throw your way. It’s a bit like building up your muscles by weight-lifting, except instead of working on your skeletal muscles, you work on a different kind of muscle: your brain.
Certainly this information is not new; yet many students still skim through a test prep book once and expect that will help their scores. Thankfully, Victory Step’s founder, Varun Tewari, recognized the importance of repetition in test preparation and based our classroom program off of this idea. Students do not simply memorize formulas for a few hours and then take their exam. They learn the skills in class at least once, practice the skills on their homework and on their four practice exams, and cover the skills one more time with the instructor in a review class. This way, each student has the chance to cover each type of question a number of times before facing down the real test.
Second, the article implicitly addresses how preparation for tests must be long-term. This means in the weeks before a major exam, students should study diligently piece by piece so that they are prepared the day of the exam. Students should also prepare by developing good eating and sleeping habits, especially in the days before a big test, in order to get their minds working in top form.
Of course, some students still think cramming can help them do better on a test. Victory Step holds a different opinion on that. Students in our classroom program spend six weeks learning our strategies and implementing them on practice exams before they ever have to face the real thing. This gives students the chance to absorb, process, and comprehend the information rather than trying to squeeze it in all at once. After all, it takes time to build up a muscle; you can’t just do it all at once.
While both of these strategies should be common sense to students, many students still ignore these strategies backed by wisdom and science. This is where Victory Step comes into play, giving students a structured classroom environment in which to prepare for their exams, where students cannot simply say, “I don’t feel like studying today.” That is why Victory Step has helped so many students achieve their goals on standardized testing.