Tips to help learners prepare for their exams

Exam Prep

Exam season is upon us. Learners are now preparing for their exams and their next steps beyond the exams.

As teachers we know how much is at stake for young people, so what can we do to help learners cope with the stress and the feelings of pressure that they may be experiencing?

Some practical tips to help learners prepare for their exams:

  • Help learners by thinking about their exams as time-bound. By this I mean how many days their exams cover; if it’s 21 days, then they can think about their exams as a 21 day challenge with a definite end-point. This helps the feeling of achievement as each day passes
  • Help learners to make a revision plan, working backwards from their last exam. Include dates, times and rooms for each exam in the plan. Break the revision plan down into realistic chunks and build frequent breaks into the plan. 45 minutes is about the most people can concentrate for any one given period of time
  • Encourage learners to build in some free time; we all work more productively if we feel rested.
  • Remind learners it is impossible to revise everything; help them to see where the marks are allocated so they can prioritise these parts of the exam in their revision plan. Help learners with different revision strategies, such as mindmaps; flowcharts; using highlighters; explaining answers to others
  • Find a suitable place to revise; this is key as it needs to be a space you feel relaxed and can concentrate
  • If learners feel really stressed about their exams suggest they talk to family member, a good friend or a teacher

Day of the exam checklist:

  • Eat well the night before the exam; eat a good breakfast/lunch before the exam
  • If possible walk to college on exam days, fresh air can help to oxygenate the brain. The brain is a muscle so it works better when exercised! Make sure you plan getting to college in good time so you don’t feel rushed or stressed before the exam
  • Take water to the exam. Also check what else you need to take for each exam and pack this the night before
  • Exercise before you go to sleep the night before exams; this will help to clear your head and help you have a good night’s sleep before exams
  • Go to the toilet before going into the exam
  • Don’t forget to write your name on the paper; then look at the questions, plan which questions you feel confident about, which questions have most marks allocated so will need more time to answer and make a quick plan; also write down any key words/dates/concepts/theorists/significant names or places/formulas etc as soon as you can so you don’t have to remember etc
  • Questions don’t need to be answered in order. If you don’t know the answer to a question, move on, don’t waste time on it
  • If your brain freezes, then try to write something and this may help unfreeze your brain
  • Above all, stay calm
  • After each exam, don’t spend time worrying about it, move on mentally to the next one and if it’s the last one celebrate your achievement, you’ve done it!

Good luck!

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