Study Skills for High School Students with ADHD

Health Writer

For high school students with ADD/ADHD, tests can be a source of great frustration. Studying the night before certainly doesn't guarantee that you will retain the information and remember it during the test. Even if you do know and understand what you have learned, during the test you can draw a blank, forgetting what you learned. Test anxiety can also play a part, nervousness stopping you from doing your best. Tests, however, are a major part of your grade and somehow or other you need to find ways to manage the stress, remember the work and pass the test. Below are a few tips to help students do better on tests.

Memory Helpers

Trying to remember lists or simply work gone over in class can be difficult for students with ADHD. There are a number of ways to boost your memory and recall.

  • Use Mnemonics as often as possible. If you need to learn a list of items, use the first letter of each item and string the letters together. Remembering the string of letters may help you recall the actual items when taking the test. For example, if you need know the names of the Great Lakes, many people will use: HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior).
  • Use highlighters when going over your notes. If they are color coded, underlined or highlighted it may help you to remember based on visual stimulation.
  • Write your notes over again. Some people can remember if they rewrite their notes. One student would write his complete notes over several times in order to help him remember.
  • Read your notes aloud or tape record yourself reading your notes. You can then sometimes review and sometimes listen to the notes. The variety of ways you hear your notes may help you to remember the material.
  • Use word association, imaging or drawing ideas to help you remember concepts.
  • Break up the material into small portions and use note cards. Try to memorize just one note card at a time.

Determine which method works best for you, or use a combination of different methods to help remember important information.

Test Taking Tips

  • Tests bring on anxiety. Anxiety can cause you to forget all the information you have learned. Using strategies to develop test-taking skills can help you to relax during the test and perform better.
  • Ask your teacher if they have practice tests that you may be able to use. If so, try as many different practice tests as possible and research your answers to see if you are correct.
  • Be well rested and eat a good breakfast before taking tests and exams.
  • For essay tests, if the questions are not provided beforehand, go through your notes and text to make up essay questions. Answer your own essay questions. Remember, when taking notes for a class, pay particular attention to the questions your teacher asks. Write down the questions as these questions have a good chance of appearing on the test.
  • If you use specific memory techniques, such as mnemonics, write them down on your test paper as soon as you receive it.
  • Read over the test directions and circle or underline words that will help you to follow the directions precisely, such as summarize, explain, or compare.
  • Go through the test and answer the questions you know first. Go back after and work on those you are not sure of or those that require more thought. Put a small mark next to the questions you have not answered in order to avoid missing questions.
  • When really stuck on a question, skip it and move on. Don't waste time on questions you don't understand or can't answer. If you complete the test, go back to those questions you didn't understand and work on them.

The strategies listed here may not work for everyone. Choose one or two of the techniques to start incorporating into your study time. This will help you determine if the technique works for you. You may find that one technique works for one subject, while a different technique works for a different subject. Be patient with yourself. Effort and persistence pays off in the end.

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