Exams Looming? Don’t Panic!

Exams Looming? Don’t Panic!

Exams looming? Don’t panic – make every day of these last few weeks count

If you are sitting major exams this year, they’re close and getting closer (Higher English, for example, takes place on May 11, in just a few weeks’ time!). Yet we mean it when we say that there really isn’t any need to panic – indeed, doing so will only actively make things worse.

With around a month to go for many of you, we reckon it’s important that you finish your revision in the right way. Here, we offer our top tips on how you can make the most of these final weeks of exam preparation.

  • Frequent testing

Yes, we know it all sounds a bit Covid Lateral Flow, but you need to check regularly that your revision is being effective. Once you reckon you’ve mastered a particular topic or subject, test yourself – or get a helpful friend/family member to do so.

Create a mind map, use Q&A-type flashcards, or resort to good old-fashioned pen and paper. But however you do it, be sure all those hours you’re putting in are actually working and that you are retaining the information you’re revising. Understand what you know, and where there are gaps, and go back over any areas on which your knowledge isn’t as strong as it needs to be.

  • Past papers

We’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again. Past papers help you understand the structure of an exam, the amount of time that each question merits, and what is expected generally. Read past paper marking schemes to understand what does earn a mark and what doesn’t, plus work through as many previous/sample papers as you can lay your hands on.

What’s more, remember that an exam is never about simply regurgitating all your knowledge on a specific subject area. Writing practice answers will help you get into the habit of applying that knowledge to the type of questions you’re likely to encounter in the exam paper.

  • Ask the teacher

If there is anything that you’re not 100% clear on, there’s still ample time to clarify points with your teacher, especially if you have found a certain topic particularly challenging. The same is true if you feel you need clarity on exam structure.

Moreover, if you’re struggling with any aspects of your English (or French and German!) revision, be sure to ask your TLC tutor about your areas of concern during your next session.

  • Condense what you know into smaller pieces of information

Go big on your ambitions for the exam, but think small when it comes to condensing your knowledge. This will make it far easier for it to stay in your brain. It may also be worth grouping topics into areas you know very well – and those you don’t – and prioritising your relative weaknesses.

Be ruthless and be aware that there are no quick-win shortcuts. Once everything is condensed into mind maps or smaller notes, it will be much easier for you simply to flick through the information and refresh your memory. This is particularly useful the night before the exam, when you won’t have time to wade through all the information in your jam-packed folders!

  • Keep all your exams in view

Obviously, when you have exams coming up, you’ll want to prioritise the closest one – and that’s only natural. However, if you also have other subjects on the horizon, don’t forget to incorporate them into your revision plan.

As well as ensuring you’re not spreading yourself too thinly, this will provide a welcome respite from what you’re currently working on, so it should help to keep things interesting. So in short, focus on your next exam without dropping the ball with regard to the others coming up.

  • Look after yourself

As you head into the final intense weeks of pre-exam study, remember it’s a marathon rather than a sprint. Don’t forget to look after yourself, and that means – as ever – eating properly, staying hydrated, and ensuring you get plenty of fresh air, sleep and exercise. All of these factors should help boost your concentration and general ‘brain power’.

Avoid burning the midnight oil to fit in some last-minute cramming on the eve of your papers and instead get a decent night’s sleep; by the night before the exam, a few final read-throughs of your condensed notes to refresh your knowledge should be all that’s needed if you have prepared properly – starting now …

  • Moderation in all things

Finally, throughout the coming few weeks, balance your revision carefully with leisure activities such as music, drama and sports, as well as spending time with family and friends. That’s especially true of this Easter holiday – we expect you to work hard, but not to spend every last second studying!

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