The last big hurdle of the school year is coming up for many students – FINALS. Because these tests cover so much information, studying for them can feel overwhelming.

Students often study for finals by reading the information over and over, staring for hours at the notes, or just hoping the information will flow into their brain by osmosis. Needless-to-say these are not efficient strategies.

Below, you’ll find a strategy that is more fun and much more effective because it’s active and engaging.


Use a large white board and colored markers or the sidewalk or patio and sidewalk chalk.

As the student goes through her study guide or notes, she should pull out the key concepts, events, or ideas. Using one or two words, write each key idea on the board or on the sidewalk and draw a circle around it.

As the student continues to go through her notes/study guide, she should be looking for dates, vocabulary, events, people, or ideas that relate to the various key ideas and connect them to the key idea they relate to by drawing a line out from the circle.

This activity helps the student to think about and organize the information. While it’s important to memorize certain dates and names for tests, understanding and working with the information is generally far more effective for studying and test-taking than trying to just memorize everything by rote.

Having the student orally explain the diagram she created on the board or sidewalk will greatly enhance retention of the information.

Using different colors and working with a study partner to build the diagram will make it more fun and will also improve retention.

Here’s what “sidewalk study” might look like:

What is Really going on When a Smart Child is Struggling in School?

When smart children or teens struggle in school or have to work harder and longer than they should in order to keep up or make the grade, it is almost always because there are one or more areas of underlying processing/learning skills that are not supporting them well enough.

Accommodations at school or through traditional tutoring may help students to get by, but just coping with a problem for a long period of time is not comfortable and is not the answer.

These underlying processing/learning skills can be dramatically improved or completely corrected through specific brain training.

With the right kind of help, children and adults with learning challenges can work to their potential, comfortably and independently.