The 16 Best Strategies for Successful Exam Preparation
Most students (children, teenagers and adults) dread the inevitable exam-time. And all students have their own method of revision and set themselves their own time in which to prepare. Whether you give yourself a month, a week or start revising three months before depends on how easily you recall information or how organised you are; but there are plenty of ways to ensure your study time can be effective.
Here are the top 16 strategies for the most successful exam preparation. Follow these tips and exam-time will never appear so daunting again:
1. Understand the reason why passing the exam is so important to you
There is a reason why you are studying for that exam and only you know that reason. You may be studying for a course to achieve a promotion at work, doing your GCSE's or A-levels, sitting an entrance exam, finishing your University module or trying to get your CIMA. Whatever the reason you are sitting these exams in the hope of passing them so keeping this reason at the forefront of your mind will certainly help.
2. Organise your time
It is crucial to be organised when starting your revision. A great way to do this is to make a timetable; one that is reasonable for you to follow and flexible enough for you to stick to. Decide what time of day is when you study and retain information best and use your timetable to help you stick to a routine. Try to have your timetable ready at least a week before you plan to start your revision.
3. Start early
Starting your revision early eliminates the stress of trying to squeeze everything in last minute. A good plan is to try to be as organised as possible, as early as possible. For example, planning three months ahead will give you more than enough time to absorb all the revision you need to sail through your exam and hopefully give you enough time to relax a bit before the big day. This will leave you feeling less-stressed and more able to confront your exam.
4. Review your notes regularly
By doing this you'll be re-enforcing new found knowledge. If you are able to review your notes regularly throughout the year then by the time exam-time comes around your revision will not be so daunting!
5. Do past papers
The best way to prepare for an exam is to try and take regular practice tests. By doing this you'll get to know the style of exam questions and learn the language you need to pass the exam. It also means you'll have plenty of experience, be able to work better against the clock and train your brain to write quicker for an exam. Make sure you practice answering the questions within the specified time limit and always try to check your answers to make sure you get them right.
6. Take regular breaks
Research has shown that taking regular breaks when studying is far more productive than trying to study hard for hours on end. Taking a 10 minute break every hour gives you time to absorb the information you have learnt and helps you concentrate for the next hour.
7. Sleep well
Sleep is actually very important. It's a fact that our brains work best when they are well-rested. Trying to learn a whole lot of revision notes when you are feeling exhausted will be quite a waste of time as your brain will not absorb the information and you'll end up exhausting yourself more. Make sure you try to get a good eight hours sleep as experts recommend this is the right amount of time for a body and brain to recharge.
8. Drink plenty of water
Being well hydrated is necessary for your brain to work at it's best so make sure you drink plenty of water whilst revising. A glass of water is recommended for every hour study so don't let those brain cells get thirsty!
9. Snack on 'brain food'
With revision comes the need for the odd snack during our small breaks to ensure the best concentration. Make sure you choose nutritious brain foods to keep your body and brain well-fuelled. Stay away from junk food and especially sugar as this will cause your energy levels to crash an hour or so later. Opt for energy-filled foods such as nuts, yoghurt, berries and seeds.
10. Choose places to study
Everyone has a 'happy place' or a place where they seem to be able to concentrate more. Whether it be in your garden on a nice sunny day, in your study or in your bedroom choose the place that best reduces distractions and keeps your mind at peace so that your study time will be more effective.
11. Break questions down
When preparing for an exam always make sure you understand the questions you are being asked. Look for key clues within the question and try to break them up. Practice this with practise papers; if you don't answer the question correctly you won't get the marks you want. Read the question carefully and make sure you fully understand what is being asked.
12. Ask for help
When revising, it is not just about memorising as much information as you can; it's about understanding the information. If you don't understand something, ask for help. Talk to your teacher, lecturer, tutor, parent or fellow student and pick their brains until you have a clearer comprehension of the topic. This will alleviate stress and make revising simpler and easier to grasp.
13. Join a study group
Revising with classmates and friends can help keep you motivated and offer you the additional support you may need when getting ready for that final exam. A study group offers extra assistance, takes away the loneliness that revising can sometimes bring with it and encourages you and your classmates to ask each other questions and get some varied and often informative answers that you may not have thought of yourself.
14. Get a Tutor's help
Finding a tutor to help you with your exam revision and preparation has never been more popular. First Tutors can help you find a suitable tutor, near to where you live and you can then arrange the best times to work with your chosen tutor either at your home or theirs; or even online. Tutors are great in that they can help you understand difficult topics, can prepare extra materials for you to use and can get some good past papers for you to practice on (that they will mark and comment on for you!).
15. Vary the material
A great way to revise is to challenge yourself to write down as much as you can about a topic you are familiar with. Go through these notes and highlight any gaps so that you can fill them in. As you get closer to the exam condensing your notes down into diagrams can help you to quickly remember everything you need to know in your exam.
16. Don't Cram and Keep calm!
When it comes to the exam don't try to cram in any extra or last-minute information; you will only end up confusing yourself and feeling more nervous. Review your notes and try to test yourself on key points. Relax as much as you can and try to feel confident that you have revised as much as possible. When that exam eventually dawns you should keep as calm as possible so that your brain can respond and function at it's maximum.
Exam time doesn't need to be a stressful and anxious time and by following a plan and making sure you stick to it you will be on the way to a successful outcome. Organise your time, eat and sleep well and seek help and advice where needed.
Post By: Anna Michaelidou
Anna has been a private tutor of both English Literature and English Language for fifteen years having taught all levels from nursery school right through to university level. She has a BA (Hons) Degree in English Literature & Modern Languages, is a writer, content marketing executive and a busy mother of four lovely children.