Below is a full list of 21 Exam Boosting Tips according to Megan Smith – enjoy the read and I hope you found them thought provoking.
- Make a detailed revision plan, and stick to it!
‘Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail’ – indeed, this should be your mantra throughout your revision period. Take time to map-out a detailed revision plan in order to ensure you have revised every topic at least twice, and completed timed past-paper questions on that area before you sit your exam. Make this plan manageable – trying to fit too much into one day will only lead to disappointment when you realise you have only covered half of your list! Try to break down larger topics into sub-topics – for example, if you are revising an English Literature text, break the text down into key themes, and set aside 20-minutes to cover each theme.
- Switch on your mind, and switch off your phone and computer!
Having contact with friends and family during exam season is important – these are the people who encourage, motivate and support you. However, having your phone by your side whilst you revise can prove distracting and detrimental to your ability to study effectively. Let your friends and family know that, whilst you appreciate them keeping in contact during the examination period, you will be turning your phone off between certain hours during the day whilst you revise. Text messages, Facebook messages, Instagram pictures, and the like, will still be there when you switch back on your phone, but the opportunity to achieve your desired grades may not come around again! Google Chrome’s ‘StayFocusd’ and ‘Facebook Nanny’ can help you to restrict your online activity if you find it hard to control your internet activity.
- Use past papers effectively – sharpen-up your exam technique!
Even students who know their subjects inside out lose marks through poor exam technique. Set aside time within your revision plan to take a close look at the types of questions examiners have posed in papers over the past few years for certain topics. You may spot a pattern emerging in the skills examiners are looking for, and therefore can tailor your revision towards that. For example, for certain English Literature GCSE specifications, the unseen poetry section always asks for analysis of ‘language, tone and structure’ – if you know this, you can ensure you have drawn up a checklist of different language techniques, forms of tone, and structural components of poetry that you can memorise in preparation for the exam.
- Revision does not have to be static! Combine revision with exercise.
Build exercise into your revision programme. You can exercise your body and your mind at once! Record yourself reciting revision points and listen to them whilst on a jog or brisk walk, or do a circuit session with each exercise relating to a different topic within a subject – e.g. if doing 10 sit-ups, after each sit up recite one point from your chosen revision topic. By combining revision with exercise you will not feel guilty about spending time away from your desk, but also benefit from a the physical exercise.
- You are what you eat! Eat a healthy, balanced diet during your revision and examination period.
There are plenty of healthy, tasty recipe ideas online to help students to prepare balanced meals during exams. Spend an hour or so researching healthy recipes with your family and preparing meal plans for the weeks leading up to your exams. Try to encourage your whole family to eat the same healthy meals as you during this period – it will help you to stay on track, and will benefit the health of the whole family in general! In addition, keep yourself hydrated by keeping a bottle of water on your desk whilst you study. By keeping hydrated you will remain alert and retain concentration for longer periods. Try adding chopped fruits such as slices of lemon or kiwi fruit to your water to provide extra vitamins.
- Tackle your troubles by talking through them with a family member. Speak about your concerns about exams rather than keeping them to yourself.
Take time at the end of a day of revision to sit down with a family member and talk through any concerns or worries you have regarding your revision or exams. Make this time productive – rather than spend the time dwelling on the worries, try to talk through a strategy of combating your concerns with the family member. Try to draw up a plan of ways in which you can tackle the problem areas you have, and pin it in a prominent place in your home – such as the refrigerator door. By doing this, it is not only a reminder to you, but also your family members can be reminded to encourage you and support you during this stressful time.
- Count those sheep and catch those Zzzzz’s! Ensure you get adequate amounts of sleep during your revision and examination period.
It has been scientifically proven that sleep helps memories to consolidate. At least half an hour before you plan to go to bed ensure that you turn off all electronic items. Use that half an hour to prepare any materials, or pack your bag for the next day. Try to have a set bedtime each evening, in order to maintain a routine. This is especially important during weeks in which you are sitting examinations – having a routine is comforting in stressful times.
- Know what you don’t know! Concentrate your revision on your weak areas.
It is important to know what you do not know! Whilst it may feel good to repeat topics you know well during your revision period, it is not a productive way of learning. When planning your revision strategy ensure to pinpoint your weaker areas and devote more time to these topics. Approach these problem areas with a positive attitude – remember, the areas you find most difficult are usually those which will trouble many other students, and by devoting time to studying these topics you will be gaining marks in the exams which other students will be losing!
- Ask for help – if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
It is normal to feel a little ‘lost’ during revision periods. Often students finish their lessons in school a few weeks before exams start and are left to revise at home with some scheduled revision sessions at school. Whilst revising at home, students often come across points within their notes about which they are unsure, and do not know where to turn for advice. If you have scheduled revision sessions at school, ensure you make a list of questions to ask your teacher in that subject before you go into school. Before the revision lesson, ask your teacher politely whether they could spend a few minutes at the end of the class going through the points on your list.
- Revise on the go!
Make use of the time you spend travelling each day by keeping flashcards of key points from each of your subjects with you at all times. Whether your journeys are made by bus, or train, last hour, or half – make every minute count by taking flashcards with you. Write out the cards in advance of your journey by writing questions on one side, and answers on the other. This way you can test yourself quickly on the move! At the end of the week, collate all cards and try to answer all of the questions – put the cards in two piles as you answer them; in the first pile will be the cards you answer correctly, and in the second will be those you answer incorrectly. Add the incorrectly answered cards into your fresh sets of cards for the next week, and keep them in the set until you can answer them accurately.
- Stay motivated! Remember exams are steppingstones to your future.
Exams are not a means within themselves – they are stepping-stones to your future. Whenever you feel unmotivated, think about what you want to achieve in the future. Whatever job you wish to have will require you to be able to demonstrate skills you acquire whilst sitting your exams – whether it be the ability to write clearly, problem-solve, or merely manage your time effectively. Make a simply motivational poster to stick above your desk whilst you are revising – it could contain a couple of pictures to help remind you what you are striving towards by working hard for your exams.
- Time is marks! Time yourself to gain the true benefits of completing past papers.
It is recommended that students complete past papers as part of their revision strategy – however, whilst this is an effective exercise, many students fail to complete the papers in timed conditions. The true benefit of completing past papers can only be gained if they are completed within the time allowed during the examination period. One of the main areas in which good students lose marks is their inability to apportion their time adequately within the exams, leading to them running out of time for the final questions. It is often the final questions that hold the most marks! Equally, when you receive your paper in the exam, work out the appropriate amount of time required for each question, and then write down the exact time at which you need to move onto the next question on one of the planning pages of your exam booklet. This will ensure adequate time is allotted to each section of the paper.
- ‘Double double’ to prevent pen trouble! Ensure you have correct amount of stationary.
Rather than packing your stationary in a rush the evening before each exam, make a checklist during the weeks beforehand of all the items you require to take into each paper. The evening before each exam refer to your checklist and pack the appropriate materials for the following day. Ensure you have at least two items of any stationary such as pens and pencils; it is also wise to have two calculators.
- Tick-tock, tick-tock – watch the clock! Take a watch with you into the exam hall.
Though many exam halls will have a clock at the front, your exam desk may be situated towards to back of the room. In order to be certain you will be able to view the time during the exams, take a watch with you into the exam hall. Take the watch off your wrist before the start of the exam and place it in the corner of your desk. Make sure that the time on your watch corresponds to the time shown on the clock in the exam hall in order to ensure your timings are accurate. By doing this you will only have to take a quick glimpse at the corner of your desk to check your timings, rather than wasting time squinting to see the clock at the front!
- Planning prevents problems! Plan for possible disruptions on the morning of your exams
On the morning of an exam, it is likely you will be feeling nervous and have many thoughts rushing through your head. To ensure you have no unexpected problems on the morning of an exam, try to plan the as far as possible each step of your morning, from the moment you wake up, to the moment you are told to open your exam paper. If you travel to school by public transport, check updates on the internet the evening before the exam to plan for any delays the next morning. Arrive at the exam location in plenty of time ensure you are able to complete any necessary steps before entering the exam hall, such as depositing your bag, registering your attendance or visiting the bathroom.
- Fill your lungs! Get your daily dose of fresh air by ensuring you spend some time outside each day.
Take time during your revision period to spend at least half an hour outside in the fresh air. There are many ways in which you could combine this with completing a productive activity – for example, if you have a dog, you could volunteer to take it for a walk each evening. Additionally, open your window if you revise at home in order to circulate fresh air in the room whilst you study. This will help to aid concentration, and retain a pleasant study space.
- Don’t forget SPAG! Ensure you check your spelling, punctuation and grammar on each of your papers.
Marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar are awarded in every exam – whether it is Science, or English! Ensure to take time five-minutes before the end of your exam to check through your paper and correct any mistakes you may have made. Should you be unsure of a certain spelling, you should think whether there are any synonyms you could use to avoid incorrect spellings. Taking time to correct spelling, grammar and punctuation may mean the difference between grades!
- Learn through teaching! Once you think you have mastered a topic, attempt to explain it to a family member as a revision method.
The best way in which to test your own understanding of a topic is to explain or teach it to another. After you have revised a certain topic, and believe you have a good understanding of it, try to explain it or teach it to a willing member of your family. Try to pretend the person has no knowledge of the subject, and present the topic to them – you could even work through a past paper question with them, explaining how you worked out the answer. Get them to ask you questions if they are unclear of your explanation. By thinking how to respond, you will become aware of the clarity of your explanatory skills and how you would write such an explanation on an exam paper.
- Recognise achievements by rewarding yourself for your hard work. But be honest with yourself!
Remember to reward yourself for your hard work. Make a promise to yourself at the start of every day of revision that, if you complete all of the tasks you have set yourself for the day, you will reward yourself in the evening. Whether that reward be to watch half an hour of your favourite television programme, read a couple of chapters of a book you are enjoying, or spend time with your family, be strict with yourself. Do not allow yourself to enjoy that reward until the hard work is done – it will be all the more pleasurable if you know you have earned it!
- Water Woes! Take water into the exam with you – but be careful about how much you drink…!
Take a bottle of water with you into the exam hall. There are strict rules about what type of bottles are allowed within exams – often it is specified that bottles must be transparent with all labels removed. It is a good idea to pause to take a quick sip of water at 10 minute intervals during the exam to refresh yourself, however do not fall into the trap of drinking too much so that you have to keep asking to visit the bathroom. Timing for exams is tight, and you do not want to be wasting precious thinking and writing time by having to wait for an invigilator to accompany you to the bathroom. Be sensible with your water consumption!
- Be positive! You have worked hard for these exams – they are a test of your knowledge, not a trick.
Remember that exams are an opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned during your course. Exams are not designed to trick you, and the examiners are always looking to reward your knowledge. Approach your exams with a positive attitude and enter the examination hall with confidence. Try your best, and attempt every question, even if you are unsure. Good luck!
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