12 Tips for Exam Success

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Below are 12 tips to help you to be more successful.
In the boxes next to each tip, show how well you believe you are doing on a scale of 1 – 5 (where 1 is lowest and 5 is highest). You have to print out the tips first to do that. This will give you confidence in the things you’re doing well, and identify things you need to work on.

1. Be clear about your goals and career plans. (If not already, we can help: click here to read how).

2. Plan for exams and assessments right from the start of the teaching period. For example make sure you’ve got a good overview of each subject, and that you’ve got a balance between all sections. (Go deeper on aspects which interest you most, but don’t neglect less interesting topics).

3. You use active learning techniques. Don’t just sit letting lesson material wash over you. Ask lots of questions – perhaps to yourself – like where’s this leading, how does it relate to previous material, what’s the overall relevance, etc. The objective is to make your brain as active as possible, engaging with new material. Passive learning is soon forgotten!

4. Manage your time – set up your own study timetable.

5. Revise your study timetable at the end of each week and write a new one for the week ahead.

6. In your personal study timetable make sure you schedule regular breaks. Brains typically become less efficient after about 40 minutes of hard mental workout. Regular breaks freshen your mind and assist memory.

7. After taking breaks, write down what you learned. If you can’t write it then you probably won’t be able to do so in an exam. (Don’t waste time writing full details: concentrate on significant points to consolidate memory).

8. Sleep for your brain is like relaxation to your muscles. Critical cells and components of our bodies need recovery time.

9. Learn to monitor your efficiency, eg set yourself little assessments to test your memory

10. Test yourself under mock exam conditions. Practice makes perfect.

11. Most people are nervous at the beginning of exams. That’s natural. Accept it as a wake-up call. Then get into action. Get some runs on the board by starting on whatever is easiest for you. That will build your confidence to tackle more difficult sections.

12. Use your subconscious. You’ll be surprised by the efficiency of subconscious parts of your brain. We’re all familiar with memory failure when trying to recall a fact or name; then giving up; and then some time later having the forgotten detail popping effortlessly into consciousness when least expected. Make use of that. But you have to give your brain time to work on all aspects of the exam. That’s why you need to read all sections at the very beginning of an exam. Incidentally, be prepared to jot down details popping into consciousness: they can just as quickly disappear again.