Test-taking tips for students with dyslexia | Rare Techy


A Kinsale-based woman with dyslexia has been inspired to set up an organization to help prevent other students facing the same challenges she faced growing up.

Una Healy is the founder of Blossom4life, which supports students with learning differences in Ireland and internationally. She is also a guest lecturer at MTU.

As it’s Dyslexic Awareness Month and Christmas exams fast approaching in secondary school and college, she shares her top tips for dyslexic students:

Prepare: Organizing as early as possible is essential to reduce stress and last-minute cramming. Create a study plan of all the topics you need to cover and set realistic goals for completing such e.g. Plan to finish a certain chapter on Wednesday 6-7pm.

Maintain balance: During exams, students can forget about basics like exercise, sleep and nutrition, all of which are fundamental to concentration and memory. So it is very important to allow other activities during exam season.

Perfection: Often high achievers want the highest marks possible and will do everything possible to achieve this. While this determination is admirable, it is very important to recognize that things do not always go as planned and as long as we try our best, whatever the outcome, it is more than ‘good enough’.

Celebrate achievements: When you finish a chapter or understand a new concept, celebrate it. Such celebrations don’t have to be anything elaborate, it could be eating your favorite food or seeing a friend, but be sure to pat yourself on the back for accomplishing small goals.

Mind Maps: There is a set process to creating useful mind-maps that most people don’t think about when creating them. Especially for students with learning differences, mind maps need to be placed in a specific format to retain them in their short and long term memory. If you want to know more about this process, get in touch. Overall, mind maps and flash cards can be very useful the day before and the morning of the exam.

Technology: There is constant change in this field, which greatly affects the education system. Post-Covid, technology is being used more and more in everyday contexts like note delivery, online classes and exams. For students with learning differences, technology is a very valuable asset that can save them a lot of time and frustration. However, it is important to select only a few technologies that are appropriate for that student. For example, not all students benefit from typing or using speech to text software. So, getting two or three tools is better than having all the applications in one device!

Time: One of the most important things when dealing with exams is time. Start time, end time etc. For many students, the core understanding of time can be very complex. Many students are unrealistic about what they can write or type in a given time frame. So practicing exam questions in the allotted time they may have in an exam setting should be encouraged. Also, wear a traditional watch, not a smartwatch, as it is often not allowed in exam settings. Place the watch on the table in front of you and set yourself a realistic time limit for completing the question, then allow time to read through the paper at the beginning and end.

Based in Kinsale and founded by Una Buckley, Blossom4life provides tuition and ongoing support for students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia and autism, while working with students of all ages. See www.blossom4life.com


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