Saturday, October 4, 2014

Test-Taking Tips for Students with Dyslexia & Other Reading Challenges

We've turned a new calendar page and are suddenly finding ourselves already in the chilly month of October here in the Midwest! Where does the time go? Leaves have turned russet and crimson as the fall season surrounds us, and for many students, the mid-term exam season is also quickly approaching.

On or about mid-October, many high school and college students will be taking their mid-term tests. Now is the time to prepare WELL for them. We have a few tips to share with you this week that could make the mid-term season much more successful (AND even less stressful!), especially if you are a student with dyslexia or other reading challenge. We hope you will read and review these tips, making plans to follow through on their use. If so, you will be well-prepared for the mid-term season, even if essay questions are included in the exams.

How to Do Your Very BEST When Taking Tests or Exams

1. Ensure that you are provided the appropriate accommodations you are entitled to receive. These accommodations might include extra time given for taking the test. You might also be permitted the use of a low or high-tech device, a scribe, a larger font format or colored paper for reading. Perhaps there is a provision that no points can be deducted a test or exam for poor spelling. However, be aware that there may be a time requirement or deadline in your state or country by which such exam accommodations must be in place, Get everything organized well ahead of such a deadline.

2. Be clear about you what you will be trying to achieve before entering the exam room. Motivation, defined goals, review of practice exams and asking many questions prior to the test session will help you know exactly what the instructor's expectations will be.

3. Just prior to the exam, listen to audios of the text you are studying. You can do this on an e-reader or any computing device with text-to-speech capability. Go for a long walk or exercise while you are listening to make the learning multi-sensory. The extra oxygen provided to the brain and body as a result of this activity will be a positive, too.

4. Practice developing your expressive writing skills to prepare for the test. Review and re-read past essay questions, discussion papers and study notes. Use speech-to-text software and begin speaking with your computing device the way you would do so to answer a question about this topic on your exam. Flesh out your ideas, find quotes to support your arguments and use examples from the text or story to further enhance your writing. Consider saving and emailing these docs. or notes to your teacher to confirm if you are on the right track. If possible, obtain the teacher's feedback and then re-write accordingly. You will improve as you progress. All this practice and preparation will most definitely help on the day you actually begin taking your exam and reading the essay question for the first time.

5. If you are a literal person or a student whose strength is not in creative writing, devise a plan as to how you might answer an essay question. First, prepare and memorize a set of 5-10 useful quotes you could use to make your point in this essay question. This approach will help to demonstrate that you have read the text and can relate to what the author or character meant by what was said or written in the book.

When beginning to write an introductory paragraph to an essay, you might want to have an opening sentence followed by three general comments that relate to the exam topic or question. In the second paragraph, a plan to expand on one of the general comments with an example of how this is demonstrated in the text might be a good plan. Then consider using a quote to emphasize your point. A concluding paragraph should reiterate the main points you wish to convey to the reader.

6. If you are really creative and a divergent thinker, you will also need a plan to ensure you get your message across in a succinct and effective manner. During the testing session, consider drawing a quick mind map on a piece of note paper just before you begin writing. This will help keep you on track and increase the possibility of writing an essay of much better quality.

7. If time permits, carefully re-read your essay, checking for appropriate punctuation, grammar and spelling to the best of your ability.

8. For last-minute crammers, consider using Wikipedia (make sure content is accurate, however) and Sparknotes. There are other helpful resources such as these, too.

9. Remain calm and practice some good breathing exercises to help with relaxation prior to and during a test or exam. However, remember that an exam is just an exam. Pass or fail, it is not the end of the world. Life is a journey. There may be some speed bumps in life that slow us down no matter who we are or what our strengths or weaknesses are. Just prepare WELL and DO your best. That is all anyone could ask.

We wish you ALL much test-taking SUCCESS this mid-term season!

Sources and Resources for Test-Taking Tips

The Ten Minute Tutor
Liz and Andrew Dunoon are the husband and wife team who have designed and created The Ten Minute Tutor. Together they have set forth to make learning to read and spell, faster, easier and more enjoyable for everybody. They claim that The Ten Minute Tutor program turns sad and frustrated children into happy, enthusiastic children… and takes the worry and stress away from you, the parent.
by Liz Dunoon

When your books and teachers don't make sense, we do. Study guides and discussion forums offered on various academic subjects. Literature section includes brief analyses of characters, themes and plots.

For more information on customizable reading tools to improve focus and attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at


  1. These are great tips - Thank you.

    We have added the article as a link to help students on our website building resources together :-)

  2. Dear Dyslexia Assist,

    We thank you for your good comment about our article here written to help students with dyslexia better prepare for taking tests and exams.

    We also appreciate your offer to share the article with your readers and visitors to your website. Would you kindly provide the direct URL to our article on your site? We will reciprocate by posting that link via various social media channels.

    On another note, we noticed that your site incorporates the OpenDyslexic font---excellent! You may be interested to know that the creator of that font, Abbie Gonzalez, also helped develop our new Reading Focus Cards desktop app for persons with dyslexia, ADHD and other issues that impact reading success. For more info on this app, please visit

    Again, thank you for your interest in the work we do here at Brennan Innovators, LLC to help challenged readers.

    Happy Reading!
    Joan M. Brennan
    Brennan Innovators, LLC