11 Tips Towards Exam Success

If your exams are coming up soon, now is a great time to pause, look forward and ensure you have planned the next few weeks for exam success. Here are eleven reminders to assist you …

1. Maintain a Positive Attitude: Now you are at the business end of the year, it is important to keep a positive Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 10.43.33 pmfocus – you can do this! Top sports people imagine or visualise seeing themselves winning and achieving their goals, great students do too. Of course this is not just about positive thinking, you have to put in the work and it is better to work from a positive base than a feeling of ‘what’s the point.’

2. Pay Special Attention in Class: In the next few weeks, teachers will give extra hints and tips to assist you towards passing your exams. They might say phrases such as: “This is important”, “Make sure you know this, “ or “This is likely to be in the exam”. When you hear this, be sure you mark your notes with an asterisk, circle, or symbol to remind yourself to go back and check you understand it.

3. Clarify any confusion with your teacher: Your teachers are expecting you to ask if you are unsure. It is now or never. If it is not easy to ask in class, ask for a meeting outside of class. Alternatively check out the free iTunesU, which features video lessons from top Universities around the world.

4. Make a plan: Spend 10-15 minutes each week planning which subjects you are going to revise, look over and learn. Remember the most important idea is to learn what you DON’T Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 7.58.47 pmKNOW. Find your old test papers and practice exams and learn what you got wrong.

5. The night before the exam: Revise your notes a final time however avoid cramming any new information in. It is too late. Before you go to bed, pack your bag for the exam, ensuring you have extra pens and batteries. Get a great night sleep. If you can’t sleep, just rest quietly, relax and focus on your breathing.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 10.47.06 pm6. The morning of the exam: Eat a sustaining breakfast – something low in sugar and high in energy. Arrive 10-15 minutes before the exam and avoid stressed people. Stress is contagious and you want to keep yourself as calm as possible.

7. During the exam: Keep your attitude positive. If you have completed the work throughout the year and learned what you don’t know – you are on track. Scan through the paper and start with the easy questions first. This will help relax you and give you a good start. Always read the question carefully and circle the key words. Show your working in maths and your outline plan for essays.

8. Manage your time: Pace yourself in the exam. If there are 100 marks and you have 60 minutes, allow 5 minutes at the start to scan the paper and 5 minutes at the end to check. That leaves you 50 minutes and thirty seconds per mark. If a question is worth 20 marks, you have 10 minutes to complete it. If you have not finished it in the 10 minutes, move on and come back to it.

9. If you can’t remember: There is nothing worse than drawing a mental blank n the middle of an exam. If you do, simply take a deep slow breath, jot down what you can recall and see if you can recall your study notes, or the textbook. If you are not sure, stay calm and move on to the next question. You can always come back to it.

10. Neatness counts: Remember if the marker has difficulty reading your writing or are unable to decipher it, they will mark it wrong. Cross out your mistakes with one line and move on. Avoid spending time erasing or rewriting mistakes so the marker will not see them – they do not have time to look at what you didn’t want to write. Ensure your numbers are clear and avoid using text language – this is a formal writing time.

11. At the end: Go over the questions you have skipped, recheck your answers, check your spelling and double check your name is on your paper and any supplementary pages you have used.


STUDY SMART & PASS… For your FREE Brain Food For Exams Poster, please email info@spectrumeducation.com

NEWSFLASH: Karen is hosting a 1 hour webinar (online seminar) covering the above points and more on the 30th September 2015 at 7:30pm NZST or 5:30pm AEST. For more details and to book, please click here.

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Published on Sunday, September 13th, 2015, under Study Skills

Karen Tui Boyes is a champion for Life Long Learning across nations, industries and organisations. Winner of the NZ Educator of the Year 2017 and 2014 and the NZ Speaker of the Year award in 2013 & 2019, Karen is a sought after speaker who continually gets rave reviews from audiences around the world. Her dynamic style and highly informative content—which turns the latest educational research into easy-to-implement strategies and techniques — sets her apart from others in her field.

3 Responses to “11 Tips Towards Exam Success”

  1. Kathryn Reed says:

    Hello – Really good tips, but your top #8 is a little out of date for NCEA exams – marks and points do not really apply, Most students sit “papers” for each standard on which they should base their time management. Within each paper there will be questions – but if they are aiming for Excellence, they should be focussing on the quality of their answers, not quantity. In some cases, it will be just one essay. Each subject is different. Also the #2 is really only effective if teachers are setting their own exams and are giving out these hints. In NCEA, we are all just guessing what the exam will look like and while it is important for teachers to be preparing their students for what they expect will be on the exam they don’t have secret insights! (unfortunately)

    • Karen Boyes says:

      Thanks Kathryn – I work internationally with student (18 countries) so I do write quite generally and not about specific exam systems. I also work at the University level with MBA students. Each system is different and as you point out, can be different between subjects. Which is the point of number two – teachers have the experience of global picture of the exams and papers so can have an educated guess as to content. It has always been this way with external exams. Thanks for your comments 🙂

  2. paschal onah says:

    A very nice article. very informative that need to be revealed to my fellow student. I believe that this tips is going to help us know how well to prepare for our exams.Thanks

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