Your Ultimate Exam Survival Guide!

Author: Dan Keating/02 May 2018/Categories: GCSE, A - Level, Examination Advice

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“Fail to plan, plan to fail” – Winston Churchill

Your ultimate guide to surviving the exams

Your exam preparation I’m sure has begun and your probably thinking is there any tips to ensure you are covering everything and being efficient and effective. As you prepare yourself for the lead into your exams I have listed below a survival guide to exams. It is now time to hit the ground running when it comes to going to school, taking and making notes, and completing assignments/projects.

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Get organised. If you are not already organised now is the time to start. Store your notes by subject in a chronological order in a single place. Consider your study place, is it quiet, free from distraction and tidy. “A place for everything, and everything in its place”, Mrs Beeton. Take the time to produce a study plan. This you will find very beneficial as your being examined in more than one subject. 

Time-management is one of the most useful skills that you can develop. Identifying how much study time is available to you, and making effective use of that time, is the key to staying on top of your workload and minimising stress. Exam preparation involves reviewing existing knowledge rather than learning new material. If you’ve developed a good note-making approach, all the materials you need for exam revision should be to hand. If you haven’t done this, it may be time to start! 

  • Check your exam dates. How have they been scheduled? Are they all bunched together? Do you have a few days between exams? Are they in the morning or afternoon? This dictates the amount of time and when you study for a particular subject.
  • Now allocate study time for each of your subjects using your study planner/calendar.
  • Consider the difficulty of each subject; are there subjects you need to spend more time on?
  • Arrange your study around “your down time”. Be it a sporting practice or just going out for some fresh air. A study plan will ensure these important activities are not overlooked.
  • Meal times are important for obvious reasons so be sure to include breaks.
  • Revision of the study you have carried out on that particular day is vital to allocate time for that purpose.
  • Past exam papers are an essential resource. They are available for every subject.
Everyone has the same amount of time, but we use our time in very different ways. “Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein

Plan your week in advance. Beware of procrastination; this can become problematic for many of us. The ‘symptoms’ include:


•     Inability to complete tasks or meet deadlines
•    Concentrating on less urgent tasks when a more pressing job is to hand
•    Finding fruitless ways to pass your time when a deadline is pending
•    Avoiding classes, or anything that reminds you of the fact you need to study.
•    Blaming other people or outside events for not completing your study
•    Pulling ‘all-nighters’ to prepare for an exam
•    Persuading yourself or others that you work best under pressure
•    Telling yourself or others that you need to be ‘in the mood’ or ‘in the zone’ to study



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Organising your study space. You will be much more productive if you can find or create a space where you feel comfortable studying. 


Wherever you study, bear in mind the following: Clutter: The less of it the better it will interfere with your ability to concentrate and can create stress. Try to keep your workspace as clear as you can. A tidy learning space will have a positive impact on your learning and improve your ability to focus. Stock up on study supplies. Make sure you have all the pens, pencils, paper, highlighters, and Post-Its you need. You don't want to interrupt your study time to get more. Storage: Organise the neat storing of your books, notes and hand-outs. Keep a small stash of water and snacks by your side. People are more industrious when they're hydrated and taking steady sips of water. Small snacks like peanuts, granola bars or fruit will help keep you energised.

Comfortable clothing

Wear comfortable clothing. Small things like having to pull up your trousers or brushing your hair out of your face can eat away at your concentration. Wear clothes that are comfortable, fit loosely, and don't constrict you.

Noise

Noise and other distractions: Keep them to a minimum. Some students like to study while listening to music, I don’t think that this works it is distractive or worse still you will need to hear the music in order to recall what you learned while listening to it!

Light


Light: Natural light is best; you will need a source of artificial light as well. A flexible, dimmable lamp is a good option. 

Motivation 

Motivation: If you can, surround yourself with things that inspire you and that personalise your space. 

Comfort

Comfort and ergonomics: Make sure that the room temperature is not too hot or too cold and that your space is well ventilated. Ensure that your chair is comfortable, and supports your lower back. Your desk and chair height should be adjusted to ensure that you could sit straight up with your feet on the floor. If using a computer, the screen should be at eye height. 

What is the right height to have your computer at?

Studying in bed is not a good idea, because you will associate your bed with intensive brain activity and find it hard to switch off and sleep when it’s time to do so. Organising a specific study space helps to you to draw a line between study time and downtime, and it is important for your wellbeing to achieve this balance. 


“For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned.”  Benjamin Franklin

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