But life was not so easy for me in my earlier school years. In general, I was slow to begin reading. I had a problem with memorizing or retaining information. When I read silently I would read the same sentence multiple times or skip it all together. I tested poorly. My poor test scores were not always because I didn't understand the material, but because I had a hard time with matching the question numbers to the problem I was supposed to be answering. Because of that I would frequently answer the incorrect question. I was labeled as being inattentive. And, gradually fell further behind in reading comprehension and math. It wasn't until I was in High School that I was told that I had dyslexia. Since that moment I began working on my own on reading comprehension and study skills. Through trial and error I finally became more confident in my ability to take and complete a college course successfully. There are many tips I wished I had known to help me when I was in school. But I can share those with you now. If you have ever experienced any of the same learning problems I did you may want review these tips. I used these concepts myself to help me complete my courses well and test with good grades.
(#1) I would always order my textbooks a minimum of a week before the class started. That way I could start reading the first chapter before the lecture begins. The trick was to give myself plenty of time to read, and not to worry about missing anything the first go round. I found that if I had a prior idea of what the professor was going to talk about in the lecture, I could find the parts of the lecture that seemed pertinent. If I was one chapter ahead and I missed a day of class it was not a detrimental problem because I could easily catch up. I know that it may sound like a good thing for any student to do, but for anyone with dyslexia or a learning disability it is imperative. It may feel redundant to practice this way, but the more you read ahead the faster you become at scanning information and reading.
(#2) Tip number two involves test taking. There is a really easy tip that I found helped me a lot. One of my problems in taking tests in general was losing my place in line as I was reading the problem. One day while doing a basic Google search I came across the idea of colored overlays. A colored overlay is a clear plastic colored cover that you lie over the top of your paper while reading. They come in a wide range of colors and can be found at your local grocery or office supply store. They are also known as the colored plastic dividers for your binder. I found the color pink worked best. You can test and find what color works best for you. They would sometimes help alleviate the glare on the page and process the written material in a standard left to right fashion easier. I also found they helped me read a bit quicker. Which in a timed test as you know is a great bonus. I personally believe that the colored overlays helped me keep track of my questions and test higher.
(#3) It goes without saying that being punctual is crucial. It is especially important to anyone with a learning disability or dyslexia. The reason I believe it was so important for me is because, if I walked into the class lecture even a minute later I get disoriented with the general topic at hand. I also found it was hard to catch up with the assignment details for that week or day if I was not on time. When I arrived on time I would make sure to get a seat closer to the professor or teacher. If I was closer I could read their facial expression and/or hand movements to process the context of what they are teaching for the day. If you have a learning problem you probably have found that just hearing information alone is a hard way to learn. So anything you can do to use your other senses will help your academics.
(#4) Take detailed notes whenever possible. I find that just the process alone of keeping your hand moving across a page is helpful. I feel that if I have my hand moving while the teacher/professor is talking I can retain an increased amount of information as opposed to not doing so. Doodling is helpful. If you doodle don't forget to at least take some notes as you may want to refer to the daily information later in order to study. If possible, ask the teacher or professor if it is alright to periodically move around or stretch. It goes without saying that you should make every effort while doing so to NOT disturb any other students. Or be a distraction to the class in any way. You must also remember that moving around is not appropriate for every class nor every instructor/teacher. It is a tool for me that I use to unblock my sideways thinking and further retain information correctly.
(#5) Utilize the Student Resources Center at your school or university. You should use the resources whenever you feel you are struggling with any concept, but especially in math, science, or English. They are there to help. They may have free or inexpensive tutors. In rare cases you can use the room with an instructor/teacher's permission to take a test with supervision. This is only a last resort for severe test anxiety. It should never be taken advantage of as an opportunity. You do not want to use the service of the testing room if you don't actually need it, as it can poorly reflect upon you as a student and your character. But with all that said, I did have to use the room a couple of times to take a math test. It helped get me over my testing anxiety. Lastly, do not be afraid to ask your instructor/teacher for an alternative solution to alleviating any test anxiety.
(#6) One tip for test preparation is making sure you ask for a copy of the power point presentation for the lectures. If your teacher or instructor does not use this software for lectures you can ask to audio record the lecture. Sometimes of course the instructor/teacher gives practice tests on paper or online. Reviewing the power point presentation (or other media) forty eight to twenty four hours ahead of time ensured that I would retain the information while my brain was fresh and then I was able to apply that knowledge to the test.
(#7) I discovered a helpful solution to increasing my reading comprehension and speed back in high school. One way I accomplished that was to check out an audiobook at the library. At the same time that I checked out the audiobook I would check out that book in print. Combining listening to the sentences and seeing the text helped. When I was done I would return that audiobook and just read the book again without the audio back up. You can separate them if both copies are not available within the same time frame. It may sound redundant and it truly is for a short while. But I did this with novels and short stories that I wanted to read and with subjects I was interested in. It never felt like a chore because it was fun. For myself there was a bonus to reading in this way. It helped increase my speed for getting through heavily worded textbooks and I better understood the questions for quizzes and tests.
(#8) This next tip may sound a little unusual, but every time I sat down to study a chapter from my textbook I would read the contents page. Even if I left a book mark strategically placed within its contents I still read that part. This would ensure that I would remember what topics were coming up next and what topics I had already covered. If I made it a habit to read the contents page each time I would never get disoriented with that day's study needs.
(#9) If you are in a class and you are not sure of the meaning of a word, no matter how small it may seem, always ask. If I was to be truthful I felt silly at times asking about a word that others in the class seemed to automatically know. But if I didn't ask I may miss out on the entire concept or idea. Another drawback to not asking is it could end up being misunderstood by myself and possibly completely out of context. So to that I say, never ever be afraid to ask what a word means.
(#10) Separate out all classes in its own completely separate small folder or binder. For myself I found that separating out each class individual assignments helped me never lose track of homework. The standard dividers did not work in general. I found that I would place things in front of a divider or behind. Because of that I would have a hard time finding the paper to read or homework to work on. In addition, whenever possible do not keep a locker. I find that having to work the locker combination with the directional changes of the knobs difficult to remember. If you do have to use a daily locker I would recommend keeping the combination with you in your wallet or a small purse. But be extra careful as to not have it stolen or lost.
I always found that the more I asked my teacher about alternative solutions, the more I grew comfortable helping shape my own education. My advice to you is to choose a program or a set of courses that are of interest to you. If you love it you will live and learn it. Never be afraid to ask for assistance. And, also remember that in order to learn properly you may have to work with your instructors or teachers with hands-on learning plans. But for anything that you may feel is frustrating or takes you longer, also remember that your learning style is never a disability. The style that you learn in is a unique gift. There is always a plus in any way that one person learns. It may mean that you are a better problem solver than average, or that you are more creative. My challenge to you is to find what your strengths are and learn how you can apply those blessings in school and life beyond.