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Test taking skills- from New Oasis Academic Coordinators

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December in the US is a time generally associated with holiday cheer, fun filled snow days, and time with family. During all of the festivities, it is important for students to remember that January is sneaking up with mid-terms or final exams. Students often feel overwhelmed by their approaching exams. This is especially true in the cases of international students trying to improve their English language, and adjusting to their new school’s expectations.

New Oasis asked our academic coordinators for their advice on what they have found to be helpful for their students when preparing for big tests.

The coordinators agree that the History and English exams are the two exams students should spend additional time preparing for. These subjects can be challenging for international students due to the extensive amount of new vocabulary. Furthermore, the Social Science classes introduce many topics that these students do not have any background in. While students in the U.S. have been introduced to American history in elementary and middle school, the international students are learning about these issues for the first time.

Of course, setting aside study time is not enough, students must also study effectively. Kristen has advised students to chunk the material, “The study guides can be overwhelming. I always recommend my students break down (chunk/scaffold) the sections (i.e. vocab., short answer, essay) and study one section at a time.” Chunking is essentially breaking the information down into smaller, more manageable parts. This technique makes memorization easier.

For example:


Joy has seen students excel in exams when utilizing their peers, “Utilize other peers that do exceptionally well in the class, and ask them to help you prepare for the exam via individual peer tutoring sessions or a group study session.”  Students should be advised that simply asking your friends may not be the most effective study group. Duke University has some great tips for creating a successful study group.

Taking practice quizzes can also assist students in identifying where they need extra attention. Quizlet lets students create online flashcards and quiz students on the material. This site has been a favorite of Joy’s students.

Quizlet pic

Our academic coordinators and advisers all agreed that technology is the biggest distraction for students while studying. Students should turn their phones off, or remove them from their room while studying. Technology breaks can even be used as an incentive, for example, “If I study my English for 45 minutes then I can take a 15 minute break to play the new game that I downloaded”.

Students must also remember that there are some basics to remember to reduce stress, and make the most of studying. These include:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Frequent breaks between studying
  • Eating a healthy breakfast on test day

Students are encouraged to talk to their host family for any help or questions that they may have when preparing for mid-term or final exams. Also, don’t forget to schedule a meeting with a New Oasis Academic Adviser. Our team is available Monday-Friday to help students create study plans and provide additional resources to help prepare.

Meet the Academic Coordinators:

Joy Mathes serves as Academic Coordinator for New Oasis International Education in the Raleigh, North Carolina area for North Raleigh Christian Academy. Joy has over 12 years’ experience as a teacher.   In the fall of 2012, Joy joined the team at New Oasis International Education as the Academic Coordinator for international students at North Raleigh Christian Academy

Kristen Allen serves as the Academic Coordinator for Gaston Day School in Gastonia, North Carolina. Kristen has been teaching for 14 years. Kristen graduated from California State University Long Beach with a BA degree in English and an emphasis in Education. Kristen later graduated with her MS degree in Educational Administration from California State University Fullerton and then went on to obtain her teaching credential.


Joy and Kristen




Duke.  (2014, December 15). How to Form a Successful Study Group: Tip and Strategies. Retrieved from Duke: http://duke.edu/arc/documents/How%20to%20Form%20a%20Successful%20Study%20Group.pdf

Quizlet. (2015, December 15). Retrieved from http://quizlet.com/