Exam Season: Achieve Your Best Results

BY Nyla Naseer

Yes, exam season is with us again and up and down the country students are nervously wondering whether turning over that paper will leave them punching the air with confidence, or wishing a black hole would open and swallow them up.

Fear not. Even if you haven’t spent the past few months diligently revising in accord with your well-constructed exam calendar, you can still do well. Here are a few suggestions that will help turn your exam nightmare into a success.

Make a SMART plan.

You are running out of time but that makes it even more important to use every hour effectively. Your plan should be:

  • Specific: what needs to be covered and what is most urgent,
  • Measureable: what you’ve done and what is left to do,
  • Adjustable(build in contingencies if something goes wrong),
  • Realistic (don’t attempt too much) and
  • Timed (so you don’t end up revising one subject for 90% of your time).

Have a daily routine – every day from here on in you can’t afford to waste a minute. Start your revision first thing after breakfast to avoid running out of time and to feel that you’ve achieved a lot before lunch.

Use the exam board syllabus

Print out what you the syllabus for each exam and check that you know as much as you need to. Exam boards such as the AQA make the syllabus documents freely available online. Exam boards are really helpful: they tell you exactly what you will be expected to know. Use this! Test whether you are focusing on what you need to, rather than wasting time learning what is not on the exam syllabus.

Make a priority checklist

After you have an idea of what you need, to know use a traffic light system to mark out that you know the score (green), need some more practice (orange) or should urgently tackle a gap in knowledge (red).  For ‘red’ areas refer back to your notes, text-books, study in groups or ask a tutor for help. Tackle those priority areas first.

 Don’t waste time…

Copying notes out is not always a good revision technique. You need to read the information that you gathered when studying and represent this in different words and using different methods, such as reading aloud, asking yourself questions and paraphrasing. Practice makes perfect: practise planning essays and long-answer questions to make yourself as efficient as possible at that process. Use varied ways of revising including watching videos and writing cheat-sheets (see below). Don’t bother writing out full essay answers at this stage: you don’t have time!

Don’t work insanely hard

Not wasting time doesn’t mean working without a break. Working for too long without breaks reduces the quality of your concentration. Give yourself time to get some fresh air and exercise. If you are really tired, chances are that what you are reading or writing won’t register anyway.

Remove distractions

It can be hard to tear yourself away from your phone or your computer but social media can wait! The constant distraction of new messages is really, really disruptive to your concentration. Turn your gadgets OFF. Tell your mates that you can’t be disturbed during your revision slots. Don’t keep nipping to the kitchen to get something to eat as not only will this take your mind away from your studies, but depending how distracted you are, you could also put on loads of weight!

Be motivated, be prepared and stay positive

As you methodically go through your revision, mark it off on your checklist so that you can see what a great job you are doing. Keep telling yourself that the reward for all your hard work will be a good exam grade.

Get all your bits and bobs ready the night before, so that you don’t waste time and get stressed on the day of the exam looking for your pen, drink, shoes or whatever else you need.

Importantly, try not to get too stressed out. A little stress is a good thing but too much and you can make mistakes or, worse, your mind can go blank. Remind yourself that you have prepared well and you can answer confidently.

 

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