Sitting exams is usually the hardest thing that you will have to do as a student. And not only is it difficult, but stressful too, because their importance means that there is a great deal of pressure on you to do well. If you want to succeed in your exams without letting the pressure get on top of you, you need to be fully prepared, so here are some useful tips for being prepared for your exams.
1. Know what could come up
The place to start when it’s revision time is to know what you actually need to revise, or you will feel totally lost and could end up wasting time revising things that you don’t need to. If you were given a list of learning objectives or a syllabus at the beginning of the year, looking over this is always a good place to start. Not everything there will necessarily be covered by your exams though; some may already have been covered by other assignments. If you can get a list of the assessment objectives addressed by the exam, do try and access one, talking to your teacher if necessary.
Then you need to look back over all of your class notes to get an idea of what you will need to revise. Pick out the key topics as heading, and then write subheadings below each one, so you know you will be able to cover everything that could come up on the day. You should also look over past exam papers if possible, as these will be good indicators of what to expect.
2. Make a schedule
Once you know what you’ve got to revise, you need to organize when and how you’re going to do it. This is especially important if you have exams for several different subjects, and have to try and dedicate enough time to each of them. You should draw yourself up a daily timetable, with sessions devoted to different subjects (ideally each no longer than an hour), so that you spend equal amounts of time on everything. It’s also important that you factor in regular breaks or you will just burn out and your brain won’t be at its best.
As well as allocating periods of time to study each day, you should set yourself reasonable targets for what you should have fully revised by a certain date. This will help to keep you motivated and on track.
3. Study Hard
If you’ve got your schedule all worked out, all you really need to do then is stick to it. If your concentration span is poor, or your motivation is lacking, try to recruit a friend or family member to give you a metaphorical kick up the backside when necessary. If traditional study doesn’t suit you, you could also revise with friends, as long as they’re responsible and serious about doing well. Helping out a friend that struggles more than you with a subject could also help you, because explaining something to someone else is a great way to ensure that it’s firmly stamped on your own brain and proves you understand it fully.
You should also have treats in place, like going out with friends, or a movie and popcorn, for completing certain tasks. You will really appreciate this time to wind down, and be refreshed for the next day’s study.
4. Practice, practice, practice!
Cramming in facts is useful, but you also need to know how to use them. This is why you should get your hands on as many practice papers as possible and do all of them at least once if you can, and doing them more than once won’t hurt you. You will get a really good feel for the format and style of the questions, and your planning and essay writing abilities will improve no end. Practicing like this could also hugely increase the speed at which you work in an exam, and more time to spare means more time to put in more ideas, more time to proofread, and less pressure.
5. Take care of yourself
Exams are mostly about the studying, but you also need to keep your health and wellbeing up if you want to do well. Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, both the night before the exam and during your revision period, by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day (even on weekends!), allowing for 8 hours sleep per night. You should also aim to drink plenty of water to keep both your body and brain hydrated, eat healthily and exercise. Exercising and eating well will increase your energy levels giving you more study time and enthusiasm. Eating well will also increase your brain power, especially if you can consume plenty of oily fish to aid your memory and concentration.