My experiences as a creative person, tutor of children, and teacher of creative writing

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How I took Tests

What helped me the most in test taking was to allow me to answer essay questions instead of inaccurately judging my understanding by my inability to recall dates, names, or multiplication tables. Writing allowed me to
explain the principles that I understood and express the significance of the material ( I couldn't tell you the date of the Stamp Act, but I could explain the meaning of it). Some might say remembering the data is an easier "lower brain" function and expounding on it's significance is a "higher brain" function. It is not something you build up from lower to higher. It is a matter of how you think. I think from the whole to the parts. I grasp whole pictures and meaning easily, but remembering details is left brained and I just can't do it well.

Some can answer questions orally, but I couldn't. Explaining orally didn't always work for me. I really need to write to help me to see what I am thinking and organize my thoughts. I also needed plenty of time to think out what to say and the space to make changes.

Reviewing material each day helped me remember better. I studied my notes, and skimmed the chapter. I made condensed notes of the most important information; formulas, names etc., so I could "picture" it. This frequent review helped me because as a right brain person my recall comes from my long term memory which is a right brain function. Cramming the night before didn't help.  

The action of writing (especially with a pencil) helped me remember giving me some muscle memory recall. Making up rhymes also helped. Everyone remembers, "In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Underlining important information or letters in a spelling word helped me remember it better (the right brain loves color and will remember it).   

Sometimes teachers would allow me to use a card which had the formulas on it or the multiplication tables. Having the data I needed to solve the problems helped me to successfully complete the test. Many times the test was designed to test one thing, but in actually they were testing verbal and numerical memory which I didn't have. Multiple choice and matching questions were much easier for me than fill in the blank. I could see answers which triggered recall and also helped with spelling. My "creative" spelling on fill in the blanks questions often lost me the answer even when it was right.

I understand principles well and used that ability to help me cope with my inability to remember abstract data. I think in relationships. If something is tried to something else, then I will remember it. Once at a Cub Scout meeting the leader lead a game where she told a story of her day and took things out of her bag that went with each part of the story. At the end she covered the items and we were asked to tell what they were. I did better than anyone which was a surprise to me! I never could do well at memory games.What was different? It was the story. I had something to tie it all together. I could see her day. I simply walked through it in my mind and noted the items. 

Movies, stories (I see the action in my mind), charts, maps, demonstrations, field trips, experiments, and songs all are visual-spatial or right brained and help me remember. Color, art, and rhythm assist me in learning and make it fun.

Will I ever remember dates and names easily --No!  Can I use my strengths; my ability to see the big picture, to understand concepts and principles, to visualize problems, history, experiments, and my ability to express my thoughts in words to help me learn- Yes!