Study Skills: GED Test Prep (page 3)
How much time you spend studying each week is important. But how you study is the key to your success. This article shows you how to set up an effective learning environment, determine your learning style, and create an effective study plan.
Maybe it's been a while since you last studied for an exam, or maybe you have never had to prepare for standardized tests like the GED. In any case, you may be unsure about the best way to get ready for these important exams. Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help you learn and remember the material you need to know to succeed on the GED. There are several important steps to take before you begin to study.
Environment and Attitude
To study means "to give one's attention to learning a subject; to look at with careful attention."Notice that the word attention comes up twice in this definition. To study well, you need to be able to focus all your attention on the material. So, the first step is to make sure you have the right kind of learning environment and attitude.
The Right Mood
Studying can bring wonderful rewards. You can gain new knowledge. You can do well on tests—like the GED—that enable you to achieve your academic and professional goals. But it can still be difficult to get in the mood to study. After all, studying can be hard work, and you might be worried about whether you will pass the exam. You may have many other things you would rather do, or you might just have trouble getting started. These are all reasons that may lead you to procrastinate and put off work that you need to do. But procrastinating can cause lots of trouble at test time. If you procrastinate too much or for too long, you won't be prepared for the exams.
One of the best ways to beat procrastination is to use a reward system. Everyone likes to be rewarded for a job well done, and if there's going to be a reward at the end of the work, it's easier to get started. So promise yourself a small reward for each study session. For example, you might promise yourself a trip to the gym or a phone call to a good friend as a reward for an hour of study. You might promise to treat yourself to a movie after you finish a chapter or give yourself a nutritious snack after you finish a difficult lesson. You can also think about the reward you will give yourself when you pass the GED. Make sure this reward is a big one!
You can also get in the mood for studying by thinking about the short- and long-term rewards you will receive for your hard work. Keep in mind the benefits you will receive from your GED study time:
- You will gain or reinforce important knowledge and skills in five fundamental subject areas.
- You will be able to apply to U.S. colleges and universities.
- You will be eligible for jobs and training programs that require a high school diploma.
- You will get the education you need for a successful future.
Remember that while you are preparing for the GED, your attitude is very important. It can dramatically affect how much you learn and how well you learn it. Make sure that you have a positive attitude. You will study, you will learn, and you will do well. Your study time will be time well spent.
The Right Conditions
You can have the best attitude in the world, but if you are tired or distracted, you are going to have difficulty studying. To be at your best, you need to be focused, alert, and calm. That means you need to study under the right conditions.
Everyone is different, so you need to know what conditions work best for you. Here are some questions to consider:
- What time of day do you work best—morning, afternoon, or evening? How early in the day or late in the night can you think clearly?
- Do you work best in total silence? Or do you prefer music or other noise in the background?
- If you prefer music, what kind? Classical music often helps people relax because the music is soft and there are no words. But you may prefer music that energizes you, such as rock and roll. Others work best with music that has special meaning to them and puts them in a positive state of mind.
- Where do you like to work? Do you feel most comfortable sitting at the kitchen counter? At the dining room table? At a desk in your office or bedroom? (Try to avoid studying in bed. You will probably be relaxed, but you may be too comfortable and fall asleep.) Or do you prefer to study out of the house, at the library or a local coffee shop?
- What do you like to have around you when you work? Do you feel most comfortable in your favorite chair? Do you like to have pictures of family and friends around?
- What kind of lighting do you prefer? Does soft light make you sleepy? Do you need bright light? If it's too bright, you may feel uncomfortable. If it's too dark, you may feel sleepy. Remember that poor lighting can also strain your eyes and give you a headache.
- How does eating affect you? Do you feel most energized right after a meal? Or does eating tend to make you feel sleepy? Which foods give you a lot of energy? Which slow you down?
- Can you put problems or other pressing concerns out of your mind to focus on a different task? How can you minimize distractions so you can fully focus on your work?
Think carefully about each of these questions. Write down your answers so you can develop a good study plan. For example, say you work best in the morning but need total silence to work. If you have children, you would be wise to schedule your study time early in the morning before the kids are up or first thing after they leave for school. If you wait until they are in bed, you will have a quiet house, but you may be too tired to study well. Similarly, if you have trouble concentrating when you are hungry, schedule study time shortly after meals, or be sure to start your study sessions with a healthy snack.
The Right Tools
Help make your study session successful by having the right learning tools by your side. As you study for the GED, have:
- a good English dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition
- paper or legal pads
- pencils (and a pencil sharpener) or pens
- a highlighter, or several highlighters in different colors
- index or other note cards
- folders or notebooks
- a calendar or personal digital assistant, such as a Palm Pilot®
- a calculator
- graph paper
As you gather your supplies, keep your personal preferences in mind. Perhaps you like to write with a certain kind of pen or on a certain kind of paper. If so, make sure you have that pen or paper with you when you study. It will help you feel more comfortable and relaxed as you work.
Learning How You Learn
Imagine that you need directions to a restaurant you have never been to before. Which of the following would you do to find out how to get there?
- Look at a map.
- Ask someone to tell you directions.
- Draw a map or copy someone's written directions.
- List step-by-step directions.
Most people learn in a variety of ways. They learn by seeing, hearing, doing, and organizing information from the world around them. But most of us tend to use one way more than others. That's our dominant (strongest) learning style. How you would handle getting directions, for example, suggests which learning style you use most often:
- Visual. Visual learners learn best by seeing. If you would look at a map for directions, you are probably a visual learner. You understand ideas best when they are in pictures or graphs. You may learn better by using different colors as you take notes. Use a highlighter (or several, in different colors) as you read to mark important ideas. Mapping and diagramming ideas are good learning strategies for visual learners.
- Auditory. Auditory learners learn best by listening. If you would ask someone to tell you directions, you are probably an auditory learner. You would probably rather listen to a lecture than read a textbook, and you may learn better by reading aloud. Try recording your notes and listening to them as one of your main study strategies.
- Kinesthetic. Kinesthetic learners learn best by doing. (Kinesthetic means feeling the movements of the body.) They like to keep their hands and bodies moving. If you would draw a map or copy down directions, you are probably a kinesthetic learner. You will benefit from interacting with the material you are studying. Underline, take notes, and create note cards. Recopying material will help you remember it.
- Sequential. Sequential learners learn best by organizing. If you would create a step-by-step list of driving directions, you are probably a sequential learner. You may learn better by creating outlines and grouping ideas together into categories.
Think carefully about how you learn. Which is your dominant learning style? Keep it in mind as you read about learning strategies in Chapter 3.
Add your own comment
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- Should Your Child Be Held Back a Grade? Know Your Rights
- Bullying in Schools
- First Grade Sight Words List
- Test Problems: Seven Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are Not Working