Helping Students with ADHD Succeed on Tests

By Huntington Learning Center

Test-taking is difficult even for the most diligent of students, but if you have a student with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, it’s even harder. How can you help your child have their best chance of success on tests when focus, organization and time management are difficult? Here are several tips to keep in mind:  

Focus on building study skills. For children with ADHD, studying effectively is a challenge. The way your child does this in elementary school vs. high school will look very different, of course, but your child can embrace a few good habits:  

  • Lay out a study plan for each subject/class with daily checklists for the week(s) leading up to the test.  
  • Space out studying to avoid cramming.
  • Organize the study space with all materials needed. Make sure that space is somewhere that is free from distractions. 
  • Build stamina by breaking work sessions into short 10- or 15-minute periods with five-minute breaks in between. Gradually, you can extend the length of those sessions, but shorter study sessions are most productive for children with ADHD.  

Encourage reflection. Often, students with ADHD do not take the time to learn from their mistakes on tests and homework. Help your child become a better student who is much more prepared for tests by having them spend time looking over graded homework to understand what they did wrong. Doing this can help them avoid careless errors and identify before every exam where they have gaps in knowledge (so they can meet with the teacher).  

Have your child study how they learn best. Every student learns differently, and therefore, not every study tip or tool will work for your child. Advise your student to try different methods and tools (e.g., video lessons, visual memory devices, drawings, flash cards, rewriting notes, etc.) and embrace techniques that are effective—not just those that other classmates claim work best.  

Do the basics. Sometimes, the simplest advice is the best. Remind your student that there are several things that will help them do better as they prepare for exams:  

  • Going to class (not skipping if in middle or high school) 
  • Avoiding distractions while in class. 
  • Getting plenty of sleep so they improve their focus during the school days 
  • Addressing questions/problems as they arise (and not waiting to get help).  
  • Keeping up with all homework and reading.
  • Staying organized with a solid organizational system and a study plan with dates/milestones attached to it. 

Help your child improve their pacing. A common problem for students with ADHD is running out of time on assignments and tests. Even if your child has a 504 plan in place to give them extended time on tests and homework, it’s important that they can keep themselves on task and finish tests during the allotted window. Have your child practice estimating at the start of every homework assignment how long they will spend on each problem and the entire worksheet or homework assignment. Encourage them to do the same (estimate time per problem based on how long the test is) during any practice tests to speed up their pacing. When possible, taking practice tests is the best way to help your child get comfortable and minimize test anxiety.   

If your child continues to struggle on tests, don’t wait to get help. There might be more going on behind the scenes. Huntington has experience working with ADHD students to help them overcome typical challenges, including preparing for tests. Through an evidence-based tutoring approach, we help students improve their confidence and strengthen their motivation to do their best on tests. Call us at 1-800 CAN LEARN to discover how Huntington’s individualized instruction and customized learning programs achieve results.