With the summer sadly coming to a close, many of us are starting to get back into school and study mode. With the new school year comes a multitude of uncharted territory: new subjects, new teachers, a new schedule, and perhaps even a new school! With all of these unknown variables confronting us in the foreseeable future, it is important to have in place strategies for success. Today, I want to address one strategy for helping to cope with new subjects and even more so, new teachers.
As I am sure you know from your schooling experience, every subject is different and no two teachers teach alike. Mr. Smith's chemistry class in New York probably looks and feels very different from Mrs. Johnson's classroom in Dallas. While the students in both of those classrooms will most likely have very similar knowledge come next June, the way they arrive at that knowledge (and hopefully understanding) is driven by the individual teacher. Therefore, getting a feel for your teacher's style is extremely important. When it comes to tests and quizzes, the best way of achieving this is by completing a practice exam. Does your teacher focus on the big picture or on detail? Are the questions conceptual or are the computational? Armed with this knowledge you will be able to focus your studying on the areas that will point you toward the highest level of success on the exam.
So, have an exam next week? Don't be ashamed to ask your teacher for a practice exam. If s/he does not want to take the time to make one, ask him/her to print a copy of an exam on the same topic from a previous year. Alternatively, ask a sibling or friend who has previously taken this class with this teacher for his/her old exams. While I can guarantee you that your actual exam will be different, and that subjects that may not appear on the practice exam may show up on your exam, have a comfort with the teacher's style and presentation will help you achieve success on exam day.
Enjoy the rest of the summer, and good luck with the start of school!