How to Encourage Teenagers to Study for Exams

The best way to encourage teenagers to study for exams is to convince them that exams are important and that studying can produce success. The first proposition (i.e., exams are important) is the more self-evident, because exams comprise the basis of learning measurement and grades. So the greater challenge is convince the student that studying for exams will invariably lead to a passing grade. A student might be experiencing difficulty in a particular subject and be convinced that no amount of studying in a hated class will lead to success.

Try these approaches:

♦ Explain to the student that the very act of studying and concentrating on the subject matter triggers the brain to imprint facts. All this happens unconsciously and without effort on the part of the student. This process is directly related to  subliminal learning and how people learn. The student simply must suspend belief and accept the fact that the brain actually works without conscious assistance. The only thing the student needs to do is to relax and concentrate and allow the brain to do its work.

♦ Explain to the student that studying for exams can become an interesting (and sometimes fun) process when the student is actively engaged. Perhaps the student’s learning style is verbal: The student prefers using words (definitions, descriptions, etc.) to imprint lessons and concepts. If so, suggest that the student 3- by  5-inch note cards and jot down important terms and concepts that are on the study guide, etc. The act of writing and manipulating the study cards will produce amazing results as the information is imprinted. Whatever the student’s learning style, it is important to realize what that style is and take advantage of it as a study resource.

♦ Convince the student that the learning process has a number of “enemies”:

◊ Anxiety as a result of fear of failure and stress. It is difficult to concentrate and study for an important exam if the student is fearful and anxious. A certain amount of stress is understandable, but the student needs to know that excessive anxiety will block learning. Exam stress is natural and it can be channeled positively as a motivator for success. Read more about this on the Kids Helpline article “Exam Stress.”

◊ Procrastination and “cramming.” The student needs to start early and reserve the last evening before the exam for reviewing what has already been learned. If the student is distraught and anxious because of procrastination and decides to cram, then the test-score goal must necessarily be lowered in favor of at least receiving a passing grade. That would require a “survey” approach that covers the basics. The student will need to review the instructor’s syllabus and exam study guide (if published) and focus on vocabulary or processes taught (formula, steps, etc.). For next time, though, read “How to Stuidy for an Approaching Exam” on