The Art of Reviewing for Tests

A new school year has just started. A roster of academic tasks such as lessons, seat works, homework, and projects has brewed on your child’s to-do list. Quizzes, assessments, tests, and exams, however they are labeled, are in sight as well. The question is, how can you help your child cope with these?

What are tests? Is There a Need to Review for them?

This is the first question on top of our heads. It has undoubtedly bugged me from when I was a student. It haunted me even more when I became a parent.

In school, the teachers present lessons, and students listen. They discuss, do hands-on activities, answer worksheets, and do many tasks to help the students grasp the concept. Ideally, the school ensures that learning occurs and no one is left behind in comprehending the lesson.

Why must they review for the upcoming tests if learning and comprehension happened? And why do parents, especially of young ones, participate in this seemingly futile activity? Didn’t the students supposedly learn the lesson and master the concepts when these were presented?

Initially, examinations were instigated to assess how much the students have learned. Tests are there to evaluate if the teachers taught their classes well.

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Over time, especially in the Philippine educational system, this tool has been utilized to record grades and identify students who excel apart from those who don’t. Because of this, students and their parents have become pressured to “review” their lessons before the scheduled exams. Teachers have been accustomed to releasing “pointers to review” days and weeks before this grueling time in a student’s life.

I have marked these dates on my calendar to ensure my child has ample time to prepare. There was no going out to play, no watching television, and gadget use before and during these days.

Ideally, there is no need to review for tests.

My view changed when we took a hand at homeschooling for two years. I saw what educating your child means.

We enrolled in Catholic Filipino Academy Homeschool. Under their program, a timeline is suggested for every quarter. There is a required number of quizzes, projects, and significant tests to record to produce your child’s report card at the end of the school year. We also meet with our Parent Coach after every quarter to ensure that the program is implemented smoothly.

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Homeschooling is love, but not for everyone.

The beauty of homeschooling is that you can mold your presentations according to your child’s learning style. If this is your first time hearing about learning styles, read my piece and learn what yours is here.

For two years, I could use ways and means that maximized my son’s learning potential in comprehending the lessons. He is a visual learner and an emerging gadget addict during the time. His interest was maximally piqued by videos, mind maps, and quiz apps, so we used much of that. A Potterhead, he was also fond of faking a British accent so I could trick him into reading tons of materials aloud, pretending to be a British reporter.

Routinely, I gave him quizzes to test his understanding of the topic. We employed paper-based, project-based (hands-on), and game-show format tests. You would have guessed right if you thought he did not do well in all of them. Also, you might say I’m pulling your leg if I tell you that he failed most paper-based quizzes I gave him. But it’s true.

Luckily, since we were homeschooling, I don’t need to put everything on record. We can do it again until the son gets it. When he gets a good grasp and score, we write it down. This is the crux of why we give tests in school. It’s one of my favorite homeschooling perks.

I am veering away from my topic, so I’m going directly to my point here. Given that your child was able to master lessons in the time it was presented, then there won’t be a need to review for a test. In higher grade levels, when the review material is heavy, light reading and scanning might be warranted to facilitate recall.

How, then, do you teach your child to review for tests?

If your child is still in preschool, and you find yourself reading this, you’re fortunate. You can thank me later. However, if your child is in intermediate or high school, and you can still follow my suggestions below, thank me later.

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  1. Develop the habit of “mastering” the lessons as they are presented. You can do this by “reviewing” fresh studies every day. In addition to school tasks, do other activities to facilitate mastery when your young one comes home. Work smart, not hard. Use your child’s learning style so they get to grasp it quickly while having fun.

Do the same with your older kids. I asked my seventh grader to make weekly outlines per subject and to organize the pictures of his teacher’s slides on the computer. When he is in the mood, he even uses Canva to make his lessons’ flow charts and info graphs. He usually draws and creates a mind map in his notebook or on scratch paper.


The book’s oldest trick is creating mnemonics for lengthy materials to memorize. Help your child develop ones that apply to them and something they can relate to. Doing this makes it easier for them to remember.

When exam week closes, he returns to these outlines, folders, and mind maps. These facilitate recall in the easiest and fastest time possible. If he can’t remember what they are about, that’s the time he will reread the text from the book.

One of the things we used to do when we were homeschooling was to create a test in a quiz app about the lessons. Then, he can take the test repeatedly. But my boy isn’t too interested. He thinks that typing from his notes or book should be more taxing. Try it with your child. You can do it every day and edit as you go until the big preparation day. It could be your practice test.

2. Especially for Filipino subjects, ask your child to read aloud. When they do, the experience becomes multi-sensory instead of just visual (when they read quietly). They move their mouths, produce voices, and hear themselves.

3. I still encourage taking practice tests. If you and your young one could do bursts of review every day, taking a practice test a day or week before the exam points to your weak topics, which can be the only part you have to review for the tests.

4. Practicing a short review period daily helps your child achieve work-life balance instead of scheduling a one-time big study time before the exams. You can squeeze in play movement and ensure ample sleep instead of losing these with a significant review period before the tests.

Work hard, play harder.

5. Despite these short review bursts every day, I want to emphasize squeezing in play and movement. Believe it or not, these help your child cope with these tasks.

For smaller kids, why not incorporate lesson questions into a maze? They can move forward with each correct answer. Older kids can take a walk, stretch, Zumba, or any other activity as a brain break.

By implementing short bursts of review throughout the term, both of you (parent and child or children) get to dodge stress if your child is ready and relaxed just before the exams.

May you get a gold star on your next test…

Jason Mraz, Have It All

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