For children with ADHD, just the thought of taking a test can create fear and worry. Although ADHD is not a learning disability, students with ADHD may have a hard time learning and remembering what they have learned. Constantly being distracted can cause students to miss important details in a lesson. And poor self-esteem can make them believe they will fail the test even before they begin. But tests are a part of school life and these days, standardized tests are required before graduating from high school.
Whether you are a student, a parent or a teacher, we have some great tips to make test taking a little easier for children with ADHD.
Don’t wait until the night before a test to start studying. Although you have probably heard this many times, taking 10 or 15 minutes each night to review your notes helps. It is easier to sustain attention for this amount of time rather than trying to focus for several hours right before a test. You might want to set up a schedule where you review notes for each class for 10 minutes per night. If you have four classes per day, this comes out to 40 minutes per night. Once a week you can take a little longer to review important information. This helps the information get into your long-term memory, where you are most apt to remember it later.
Know exactly what is going to be covered on the test. For some tests, knowing terms and definitions is important, while in others you will need to understand the characters in a book. Talk to your teacher and ask if she can go over what information you need to study. You may want to write an outline of what you see as important topics first and show it to your teacher, asking if she can help you to make additions or deletions.
Talk to your teacher about the upcoming test. Ask questions about the format -- is it multiple choice, essay, fill-in-the-blanks, matching, etc. Understanding the format can help you study better; for example, if it is an essay test you should spend more time understanding the concepts in the chapter, using facts to back up the concepts. If the test will be fill-in-the-blanks or matching, you should probably spend time learning specific facts, dates and names.
Create the best environment for studying and taking the test. For studying: do you need a quiet, distraction-free place or do you study best with the low hum of the radio? Find a spot at home where you can study without distraction. When taking the test, consider the classroom. Would you do better if your desk was in the front of the classroom, near the teacher? If you sit by a window, can you move your desk around so you can better focus on the test? Can you take the test in the library or the resource room? Think about how your environment impacts your schoolwork and work with your school and teacher to create the best test taking environment for you.
Be prepared for the test mentally and physically. Knowing the information isn’t always enough. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before and eat a good breakfast the morning of the test. If your test is going to be late in the school day, a protein bar before the test may help.