The Independent – Top Exam Tips

For those of you that saw me in the Educational Diary of the Independent today about how you can improve your success in exams (and for those of you that didn’t), here is the full list of tips:

Top Ten Tips For Exam Success.

The exam season is upon us again, here is list of 10 tips to make sure your (last minute?) revision is productive and you are successful in your exams.

1. Do It With Someone.
Revision that is! Not only will this help you bounce ideas off each other and get a different perspective on subjects, it will give you additional motivation and a spot of friendly competition can help (just make certain you revise and not chat!)

2. Check Your Environment.
Make sure where and when you are revising is the best for you, be tidy and organised, make certain you are away from distraction.

3. Relax!
Stressing out and getting worked up means you go into a stress response, this actually reduces our ability to recall information. Do this very quick and simple relaxation exercise: Breath out. Now take a deep, quick full breath in, as you do, tense all your muscles. Hold for a second. Breath out slowly as you do focus on relaxing all you muscles completely. Repeat 3 times (be careful not to go all light headed).

If you MUST stress out, worry or panic. Put time aside for this and plan for it (see tip 6 and 7). Give yourself 5 minutes a day to stress out and then get on with your revision.

4. Think of the Outcome.
Don’t waste time focusing on things you don’t need. Keep a clear outcome in mind of why you are doing the revision and exam and what you need to do to get the grade you want.

5. Imagine When It Is All Over.
If you start to lose motivation and focus, take yourself into the future and imagine the time when you get the results and they are exactly what you wanted. See how that makes you feel and acknowledge the effort you put into it to get that result. Keep the good feeling and come back to the present and carry on.

6. Don’t Spend All Your Time Planning!
Planning is important, but don’t take all your time doing detailed plans preparing what you will do and when. Keep it simple. Work out how much time you have and break it down into hour chunks, and decide what subjects you will do in that hour. Assume you will do about 6 hours a day, swap subjects every hour to keep yourself fresh (see the next step).

7. Take a Break…
Your brain can’t cope with too much concentration. It runs out of fuel and needs a rest to recharge. Aim to take a 5-10 minute break every half an hour and a 10-15 minute break every hour, after 3 hours take at least a 30 minute break (you will find your natural timing if you experiment), where you go off and do something totally different. Take this into account whilst planning.

Take breaks during the exam too (see tip 10), do the relaxations exercise (tip 3) for a minute or two to energise and refocus.

8. Make it Memorable.
Make sure you make notes and not just read, that extra action helps get it in our heads. But, we don’t respond to well to just lists in one colour. Get the crayons out and make it colourful. Think of funny or strange ways to remember the information, make up silly stories or phrases, the more fun, the more likely you are to remember it.

9. Reward yourself!
Studies have shown that you are more likely to learn something if you associate to something pleasurable, so at end of the day, congratulate yourself on a days revision well done, give yourself a pat on the back and reward yourself with something (ice cream, DVD, an hour on the PS3 etc…)

And finally…

10. During the Exam – Don’t Panic!
My old maths teacher once gave me an excellent piece of advice. He said; in a 3 hour exam, a couple of minutes is not going to make any difference at all. So, when the invigilators tell you to start, sit back for a minute or 2, look around and watch everyone else panic! Take a few moments to gather your self and focus and calmly open the paper.

If you want any more info please do not hesitate to contact me

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