Nishall’s Blog: Exam Tips

Exam Tips!

FOR many it is exam season, and for many revision would have started or will start very soon. Therefore this week’s blog is going to be on exam tips, to prepare yourself. I know how hard GCSE, A-levels and Degree exams can be and how stressed people can get. So if you start your revision off in a positive way, the exam season can be a lot more of an easier journey, with hopefully less stress.

Last-minute ‘cramming’ for exams is the worst of all worlds – it is very stressful, is unlikely to lead to good marks and you will not be able to remember much of it within a few days of leaving the exam room.

It makes much more sense to start exam revision in plenty of time – all it takes is a little planning and self-discipline to avoid those late nights, cold sweats and so-so grades.

How do we prepare for exams?
• Plan our revision
• Prepare notes to learn from
• Regularly review our notes
• Obtain past papers
• Practise answering questions to time
• Practice using questions from lectures and tutorials
• If you have a disability or special needs ensure people are informed well in advance.

Remember that revision has a valid purpose
• Going over work to check your understanding
• Make links between different topics to see how the whole subject fits together
• Remind yourself of material you have forgotten
• Reinforce your learning
• Identify and fill gaps in knowledge

What are the best ways to revise?
• Least effective – just reading notes repeatedly
• Most effective – when you interact with the material, making it meaningful to you:
• Reworking material into a chart or diagram
• Summarising material under headings
• Discussing material with others
• Make links, comparisons and contrasts between different areas of work
• Evaluate different theories

What do I revise?
Before deciding, collect the following information? Course outline, handouts, essays, projects, syllabus (aims and objectives), notes, books, articles, past papers
• List all topics and sub-topics of each subject
• Ask yourself:
• How useful is this for my exam?
• How much do I understand?
• How easy/difficult do I find it?
• Select topics to revise: do not revise everything
• Decide order of your revision and whether to start with easy task, then difficult one or vice versa
• Work out a revision timetable
• Create a set of revision notes

What are the best revision methods?
• Read through notes: break into sub-topics: write summaries, ask critical questions
• Recall what you have read: outlines, plans, diagrams etc.
• Devise potential exam questions and then answer them
• Revise in a ‘revision club’.
• Prioritise key points for each section of a topic
• Start to revise early
• Avoid long spells of just reading – work in more short spells rather than fewer long ones
• Give yourself variety
• Stick to revision timetable

Do I need a revision timetable?
Yes! Try and follow these suggestions:
• Outline areas of course you will cover and when you will revise
• Note date of exam
• Write down work, family and personal demands on time
• Make note of time you have available
• Be realistic – ensure time for rest and relaxation
• Day before exam – review old material

How do we prepare for exams?
• Find out about exam format:
• Look at past papers
• Where and when? How long?
• Can I take in dictionary, books, and calculator?
• How important is the exam? What is the assessment weighting?

How do I cope before the exam?
• Get up in plenty of time and try to eat some breakfast
• Check supplies – more than 1 pen for example
• Do you have your student/exam no.?
• Be in good time getting to the exam

At the start of the exam
• Check instructions carefully
• Be certain about number of questions you have to answer
• Check the reverse of page – any more questions or instructions?
• Tick questions you intend to do – put timing next to each one
• May help to start with the easiest question?

During the exam
• Underline key words in essay type question
• Make sure you understand question
• Make sure answer is relevant
• Spend some time planning each essay – jot down ideas then organise them
• Keep an eye on the time!
• If run out of time write in note form
• Allow few minutes at end to check what you have written
• Cross out rough notes with straight line
• Re-write any illegible words
• Check answers are numbered correctly
• Ensure your details are filled in on front page

After the exam, have a rest, treat yourself and reflect on the whole experience for future exams!

However, if you don’t do well, remember you are in good company
Do not worry; here is a list of famous people who did not do at all well at school:
• Winston Churchill, British prime minister
• Abraham Lincoln, US president
• George Bernard Shaw, author and playwright
• Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb
• Leo Tolstoy, writer of War and Peace
• Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse
• Richard Branson, British tycoon
• Michael Faraday, pioneer of electromagnetism

So I hope these tips help, remember not all these tips will work for everyone, they need to be adapted to your needs to make them work. So I wish you all the best and good luck for your upcoming exams.

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