John may have ADD. He may know the material, but has a transfer problem with the type of testing. See if he does well on independent work like reports and term papers.

ADD'ers can do very well in some fields and poorly in others in testing. His engineering material is organized differently in his brain that social science material. If John is capable of multidimensional thinking, it may be interfering with his test taking as a distraction.

Have you tried giving him the test and let him answer verbally rather than mark the circles?

If John thinks in 3D or nonlinear, he should be tested for ADD.

You may want to review his past academic process, say in High School and see if there is a pattern to his test taking between subjects.

Usually ADD'ers see the interdisciplinary aspects of subjects and to focus on one subject like 2D thinkers is very difficult for them. Test taken for ADD'ers is usually difficult since this is not the way they usually express their knowledge or skills.

There is an excellent article by Scientific America online for the Sept. issue about ADHD [ADD still applies].  Reading this article may open up some clues for you and John. Have John Read it also and see he can Identify any characteristics himself.

Hope this gets you started on finding a solution for his problem.

Heather Newburg wrote:

What suggestions can I give to a student who is struggling with only one
of his courses?  I have run out of "answers."  Here's the situation.

John is passing all of his engineering and math courses, but no matter
how much he studies, he cannot pass any of his tests in his Principles of
Management or his Psychology 101 course.  The tests are multiple choice and
essay in the management course and multiple choice in the psych course.
He understands the material; when he studies with others for management, he
helps them understand the various concepts, but does poorly on the exams
while his study partners pass w/ B's.  His study partners tell him that
they wish they had his study habits and dedication.  When John meets with
his psych tutor, she says he knows the material but when it comes to the
tests, he just doesn't do well.  (John is repeating Psych 101.)

John uses notecards.  He attends class, takes notes, reads the textbook,
and combines notes from lecture and text.  He studies the subject daily.  He
studies with others to ensure that his notes are complete and clear.  He can
recite back information, but when it comes to the testing situation, he does
not remember (or perhaps know) the material.  He has not been tested for a
disability, although he does not believe that is the issue.  We've talked
about test anxiety, but he says he feels relaxed and confident when he
walks in to take the test.  We've talked about test taking
techniques...he's doing what he should be.

What other suggestions can I make that I may be forgetting?  Thanks in
advance for your help!

Heather Newburg
Learning Center Director
Lake Superior State University
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