Preparing for Exams 

Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” Robert Collier

Be realistic in your understanding of the significance of exams.
Statistics show that many of the people who do the best in exams, do not excel in the same way later in life.
Recognise that exams are just as much about showing you where you can improve, as they are about judging your capacity to perform. Failing in examination questions is only going to help you correct deficiencies in your learning so that you do not fail in a real life situation where the impact might be more serious.
  • Find out the marking system for the exams, so you know which questions and assignments carry the most weight in the overall marking of your work. Often the teacher or tutor is quite prepared to let you know beforehand, if it is not already indicated in the exam or assignment questions. Find out as much as you can about the type of questions you will be asked beforehand, so you can practice the answers and go over the information needed for the big mark questions you will need to spend the most time on
  • Take a few minutes when you are sitting an exam to read through all the questions carefully and plan how you will spend your time and when are the most important questions, At this stage you can also make a mini summary of dot points on how you will tackle these questions when you come to them, before you start the first question. Choose a few easy exam questions to start with, ones that you are sure of. This will boost your confidence to tackle the tricker, longer ones. The secret to top results is often in the strategy rather than in the actual knowledge answers. 
  • Revise you work thoroughly in plenty of time before the exams. There are a number of strategies to for doing this including making out cue cards- little test cards with key information on them to jog your mind. (See above details on methods of study.)
  • Know exactly how long you have in weeks or days to prepare for the exams and plan out all your study time carefully to be prepared. Allocate time for reading, summarising and memorising or practicing and taking your breaks, into your study plan. Review how you are going at the end of each week on all the points you needed to look at and change you schedule if necessary to build the knowledge in areas where you may have found you are a little weak.
  • Take regular breaks possibly ever y 40- 45 minutes rather than study continuously for two or three hours before you have a break. Have a drink and a light healthy snack, preferably out in the sunshine to recharge your energy and lungs, for clearer thinking. Results of trials show that students who take regular breaks of 5-10 mins every 45 minutes actually learn and retain information better than those who do long stints of several hours at a time without a break.  Even ten minutes on an exercise bike or walker to get the circulation going again from all that sitting down will help recharge you. Long stings cause a slowdown and loss of knowledge towards the end of the time , steadily refreshing and recharging with new a repeated information apparently works best for most people.
  • If you are relaxed and comfortable when you take an exam; you are more likely to be successful.
  • Make sure you are healthy and well when you do an exam. Eat and sleep properly, then exercise and stretch before entering an exam; so that your body is physically in the best condition to perform.
  • Try to learn in the same modality as the exam. For example, if you are taking an oral exam, ensure that your learning is oral. Read out your notes, prepare your presentation, and so on.  If your exam is in writing, make sure you take notes, write down your revision. Research in learning has found that students perform better in an exam if they carry out their learning in a similar way to how the exam will be given, so oral, written etc. 

The day before work or essays are due, or exams are set, revise your work completely. Have it fit your plan from previous weeks of planning your study so you can bring it all together, revise and review. Take plenty of breaks. Stay refreshed nutritiously fed and get plenty of sleep.

Finally, when you are studying or learning, always consider –

  • Why do I want to learn
  • Am I committed
  • Where am I going to study
  • When am I going to study
  • What learning style suits me best

Once you have determined how best YOU study, you will be a much more effective learner. And above all, always try to ENJOY what you are learning.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
Dr Seuss

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Benjamin Franklin