Do you fall to pieces at the very utterance of the word “exam”? Maybe you panic-cram your revision and run out of time. Perhaps you always learn the hard way?
Sure, exams can be stressful. And there are very few of us who really thrive under examination conditions.
But those who can remain calm aren’t just naturally gifted; they learn how to prepare for their exams.
Exam preparation is something that we don’t always learn at school. But if you can change your approach to your next exam season, you’ll feel more ready and more focused.
This article will help you to manage your time and to explore some approaches that will help you walk into that exam with a fighting chance.
Preparation is just revision, isn’t it?
A lot of the preparation for exam success comes down to revision, of course. But it doesn’t stop there.
Honing your exam preparation techniques could have quite a significant impact on your results.
Develop strategies to learning include improving revision techniques, but they’re as much about time management that can help decrease the inevitable anxiety.
An exam is more than just demonstrating your knowledge. Exams indirectly demonstrate your organisational skills as well as the tenacity of your approach to study. Exams are also about showing how well you perform under pressure, in a time-sensitive environment.
How do I develop my exam preparation techniques?
Exam preparation is all about:
- Maximising your organisational skills
- Identifying your strengths
- Recognising your weaknesses
- Setting up a mechanism to address your strengths and weaknesses
Maximising Your Organisational Skills
Getting organised is the first step to aceing your exams.
- Knowing WHAT you need to know – researching the potential content of the exam. Understand what TYPE of task you’ll be asked to complete: Q&A, essay, evaluation, discussion, comparison, etc.
- Time Management – map out a plan of your available time. Identify how much time you’ll need for study. Don’t forget to plan in time for relaxation as well.
- Resource Control – have what you need before you start each session. Don’t sit down to revise and realise you haven’t got the right books or your battery runs down on your laptop.
Ultimately, make sure that you attend any final lectures before the deadline and write a list of what your lecturer tells you about the upcoming assignment. Ask questions if you’re unsure.
Identifying Your Strengths and Weaknesses
This is all about knowing WHAT you need to know.
We all have our strengths, just like we have our weaknesses. Successful preparation for your exams requires a good, honest checklist of the aspects of the exam that you feel comfortable with and the areas that are less steady for you.
Focus the majority of your revision time on the areas that you struggle with. Ask for help or get together with friends to help you understand tricky concepts from new perspectives.
Plan Your Time
Calculate how much time you have before the exam – and create a timetable. Recognise your prime time for effective revision and use these slots for the tasks that require extra concentration.
Use some of your down-time to focus on the administrative tasks: create flashcards, test yourself or your friends, record your facts and listen to them while you’re washing up.
Make sure that you counter in time for socialising, work commitments, and recouping as well as studying. An hour at the gym each day could help to keep your mind focused.
Be Realistic With Your Time
Your time is finite. Prioritise your study. Accept that you might not have as much time for socialising. It’s not going to be forever.
Take Regular Breaks
It may seem counter-intuitive, but you need planned down-time as well as focused study time. If you’ve never tried the Pomodoro method, you might find it’s an effective way to make the most of your study time.
A Pomodoro is a period of study followed by a short break. There are plenty of YouTube videos that help you adopt the Pomodoro method.
Regular short breaks help you absorb facts more efficiently.
Vary Your Revision Approach
Revision can be dull. And dull is the path to ineffective.
So, vary your approach to revision and try active approaches as well as book-based passive learning.
It’s useful to revise with a friend, but save the chatting for your breaks. Test each other’s knowledge, create quizzes, and explain complicated concepts to each other.
As you continue to revise, you may find that you need to spend more time on certain aspects of your subject and less time on others.
Factor in review time after each revision session, and adjust your timetable if you find that you could be spending your time more effectively focusing on other areas.
Develop a Little Mindfulness
Exams can be stressful. Try to limit your late-night revision sessions because they’re likely to interrupt a healthy sleep pattern.
Good, regular sleep is important; as is healthy eating – they contribute to good brain function.
Give yourself time to wind down at the end of your revision session. Practice a little yoga or meditation to reset after studying. Avoid stimulating your brain further by watching TV. Give yourself an opportunity to wind down before you try to sleep.
On the Day of the Exam
This is the crux – and how you approach your exam can make big differences.
- Read the paper before you start. Make sure you know whether you need to answer ALL of the questions or whether you can choose which to answer.
- Take your time. Regard the point-weighting of each question and set aside appropriate time according to the marks achieved. Don’t spend an hour on a two-mark question and ten minutes on a ten-mark question.
- Answer all of the questions. Don’t leave the ones that you’re not sure about; give them a go – there are still marks to be achieved.
Of course, sometimes the best way to revise and prepare for your exam is to get help from someone who knows how to help.
TutorNinjas take on the best, qualified freelance teaching staff, ready to help you prepare for this most stressful of times.