Tips to help you survive exams

Tips to help you survive exams  

1. Get all the support that you can.

Your family and friends can provide you with the emotional support to sustain you. Your teachers will usually be available through out the entire exam period to deal with any problem.

2. Learn to manage your stress levels.

Talking honestly to those that you trust about how you are feeling helps to reduce stress. Simple breathing techniques, to help your body relax, also reduce stress. Physical exercise in the form of a brisk walk, a run or a swim can burn up excess stress.

3. Plan your study timetable, working back from your final paper.

By now you will have processed a large number of possible questions, for all of your forthcoming exam papers. You need to organise them backwards, starting from your last examination, identifying the periods of time that you have available to you, before each examination paper, to review your notes and sample answers. When you have completed this process back to today, you will have a clear picture of how you are going to use every hour available to you, to ensure that all sections of every paper have an identified time slot for final revision. Undertaking this simple process will give you back a sense of control and will greatly reduce excess stress.

4. Remain sharp and alert until the exams are over.

To achieve optimum performance you must maintain a disciplined approach, by sustaining a well-balanced study routine, eating regular and healthy meals, going to bed before 11pm each night and relaxing for at least an hour before you do, so that your sleep is restful.

5. Review what you need each day – before leaving home.

A simple check is always advisable as different papers may require you to have different instruments and materials.  Also check your other daily requirements, such as fluids, other forms of nourishment, bus fares etc. You may also wish to take a set of revision cards with you to review on your journey to your exam, but remember to leave them aside before your enter the examination centre.

6. A good start is half the battle.

When you sit into your seat, arrange your pens and other instruments on your desk. Always opt for the paper (higher or ordinary level) you have prepared for. Once you receive your paper, read it carefully and fully before you do anything else. Once you have completed this task, start to sketch out at the back of your answer book the answers to every question you are planning to tackle. When you have completed this process, start working on the question with which you feel most comfortable.

7. Allocate a specific period of time to each section of questions to be taken.

Firstly, allocate a number of minutes to each section of every question.Secondly, never leave the examination centre until the exam is over, as you can always achieve higher grades by reading through your work and editing it to add additional material that will come to mind as you re-read what you have written.

8. What if I am uncertain as to one of two answers in a specific question?

Everything that you write must be read and marked. It is advisable, therefore, never to tear out or erase any material.

9. What should I do if I feel unwell during an examination?

If you arrive at a centre and are not feeling the best, inform the invigilator and your principal. You can be supported during the examination with a warm drink or the opportunity to leave the centre under supervision for a few minutes, if necessary.

10. Should I review my answers after each examination?

It is entirely natural to discuss your paper with friends and family after each examination, but do not attempt to analyse your performance, as it will only frustrate you and draw your mind and energy away from the only thing that matters, the next paper.

Written by Brian Mooney and originally published in the Irish Times, 2009.

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