Exam preparation tips

With the ‘big’ exams fast approaching – GCSE’s, A-Levels and degrees – knowing how to effectively revise is important.

Learn how to independently study and your hard work can open doors to further qualifications and dream careers.

So how can you effectively practice?

  1. Past papers – the saying goes ‘practice makes perfect’ and this is true of exams too, especially as the real thing will bring with it lots of pressure and time constraints. By practicing on your own terms, you can train your body and mind to better handle this stress, so when you enter that exam hall, you are fully prepared for what is about to happen. Luckily, getting a hold of past papers is easier than you think… You can either ask your lecturers/teachers or you can find some online – our revision guide offers additional strategies to complement your practice with past papers. In either case, by practicing lots of past papers, you can develop your skills and create muscle memory on the correct way to tackle and interpret questions. In turn, these practice sessions will alleviate some of the pressure you’ll experience on the day, as nothing about them will shock you. Instead, you’ll be familiar with the way they are laid out and what they want of you.More importantly, with practice you’ll know what you need to do to move up grades.
  2. Review examiner’s report – every year the person in charge of your exam will write up a report containing examples and tips. True, these are usually designed to help teachers (and their teaching methods). However, their advice can help you too as they will explain how the question is marked; what people regularly do wrong, and how to avoid making these mistakes. Similarly, their comments on what scores the best marks year on year will give you guidance on how to tackle your own responses.
  3. Bitesize – you may already be familiar with the technique of splitting your revision into smaller, bitesize chunks, but the thing is – this is a great revision technique. By making sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew, you can 1) reduce the pressure/stress of trying to remember it all, and 2) they will help you to revise more efficiently. We recommend reviewing past examinations and working out what topics you will need to revise. Next, break these topics down into smaller chunks and create a list. Using this list, work out a 20-minute task that will enable you to refresh your understanding and comprehension of the topic. Repeat this process with every task/topic until you have clear notes that you can use to keep on refreshing your knowledge. Tip: create a revision timetable. This will help you to stay on track and ensure you aren’t putting too much pressure on yourself in the run up to your exam.
  4. Create flash cards – these will be a learning exercise in themselves as you’ll need to condense information down into consumable chunks. This technique of kinaesthetic learning is a valuable one though, as it forces you to engage different parts of your brain. Just be sure to do more than write notes, but introduce other visual triggers i.e. pictures, to help you remember ideas.
  5. Take care of yourself – and this is a serious one as it is easy to forget to eat and drink properly.
    – DON’T have too much sugar or coffee as these will reduce your concentration and focus.
    – DO drink plenty of water and nibble on health snacks whilst you revise – your brain is 79% water. If you become dehydrated, your brain will literally shrink impairing your ability to think or remember.
    – DO exercise and make sure you take a break and get some fresh air. Remember your body is basically an input-output machine – you need to take care of it, if you are to succeed.

And that is it! Incorporate all of these into your revision, and you can walk into your next exam 100% confident that you have got everything under control.

For more exam day preparation tips and overall guidance, refer to our revision guide.

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