Studying for the GED is hard already but it is even trickier if you have dyslexia or ADHD. You should definitely follow strategies that are recommended for everyone but some additional help (like auditory, visual and kinesthetic aids) can keep you engaged and focused on your studies. These aids are proven to help information “stick” in your brain.
What NOT To Do
- Flip through a Practice Test Book and expect to absorb the important information.
- Try a few practice tests and then go into the real test, fingers crossed.
- Study when you are mentally tired (it will waste time and leave you more tired and less motivated to study next time)
- Be a perfectionist (“I gotta get everything correct or I am a failure”) or a pessimist (“This is too hard – the GED is for other people, not me”)
What You Think You Don’t Need To Do, But You Do
Create a time-line
It will be helpful to create a timeline in order to carve out time that is just for GED test preparation, leading right up to the day before the test. Ideally, put it on a wall where it is visible everyday, with a humorous and positive statement next to it.
Take a practice test
Jump on to the GED website and take a practice test. It will let you know the areas you need to focus.
Get a study buddy
Even if they are not taking the GED, another person can keep you accountable to your study routine and add another dimension to the learning and remembering process. You can use them as someone to doodle with, talk through questions with, or even someone to read a page aloud over and over from the practice test. They can also help you by timing you as you take a practice test.
Create memory tricks
Memory tricks help you create mind triggers to remember words or concepts that will help you during the test. For example, to remember the order of colors of a rainbow, you can memorize the name “Roy G. Biv“. Each letter in the name represents a color in the spectrum, in order: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Similarly, to remember essay guidelines, you can use the phrase “Dead Eel“, which expands to: Determine Evidence for your Argument to Defend. Elaborate with Examples and Logical order.
Memory tricks may be cheesy and full of bad humor, but they work because your brain remembers what has funniness attached to it.
Work in a quiet place with few distractions
Ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones can help block out noise that competes for your attention. Free yourself of visual stimulus too, like an interesting window view. You may experiment with low-volume background music, but only if it helps harness your focus.
Create pictures in your mind for as much as you possibly can. Ask questions. Draw pictures. Create voice recordings. Make your own PowerPoint presentations. Visit these over and over and try not to rely on one form of studying. The more ways you can input information to your brain, the better test taker you will become. This is especially true for the subject areas of the GED that are unfamiliar to you.
Apps and Device
Warning: Apps can be a rabbit hole, where you start exploring how they work, and figuring out what is cool about them, and suddenly – Bam! – an hour is up.
Vocabulary Practice Apps
Use an app that quizzes you, such as Flashcards or Quizlet, on words or subjects that you need to study. There are thousands of topics to choose from, or you can build you own deck.
Text to Speech Apps
This text-to-speech app has the most features and has been used for research with dyslexics. Not only does it support a wide range of formats (PDF, ePub, DAISY, Word, text files, web pages, etc.), it also allows you to customize the pronunciation, annotate text and highlight it to help you study better.
Costs about $10 and you can get it at http://www.voicedream.com/.
Speak It! allows you to copy emails, documents, web pages, PDF files or any other text into the app, which is then spoken back to you. You can create an audio file to send it via emails.
Costs about $2 and you can get it at http://future-apps.net/app/voice-synthesis-for-your-iphone/.
A high-quality text-to-speech reader capable of speaking any text, with a range of human-sounding high-quality voices. A great feature of ClaroSpeak. is the option of visual highlighting in-sync with the spoken words, with a great range of color and font settings to allow for optimum reading and word prediction to help with writing. You can also create an audio file to send via emails.
Costs about $8 and you can get it at http://www.claro-apps.com/clarospeak/.
Note Taking Apps
You can think of OneNote as a scrapbook of ideas or a journal of notes or a organizer for your thoughts. It it like a digital version of a 3-ring binder, with tabs and move-able notes like your sticky notes in a binder.
This app is free and you can get it at http://www.onenote.com.
Here is a demo of the app.
You can dictate your notes into this app with it’s speech-to-text capabilities. It is an excellent note taking app though not quite picture-perfect, with a few idiosyncrasies on the UI.
This app is free and you can get it at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paperport-notes/id476134017?mt=8.
Here is a demo of the app.
As a portable work-space and folder set, and notebook collection, all in one, it is useful for students to prevent getting overwhelmed with all the course content. But being so feature rich, you may get overwhelmed learning how to use it.
This app is free and you can get it at http://www.evernote.com.
About Kendra Wagner
Kendra Wagner, MA, is more than a teacher. She is a researcher, academic coach of all ages, advocate, and writer. Her expertise in LD and ADD arose from her own hyperactive childhood, and extensive work in schools, juvenile detention, and a current private practice. She loves a great question, and challenges students to stump her.