Born and bred a British, Shamima, 15, is all about creativity and self-expression. She wishes to pursue a career in Medicine and pursue her interests in poetry, fashion, writing and maybe in the distant future, property development.
It’s really difficult to get some decent advice/tips on tackling tough exams especially online. Here’s a friendly and definitely do-able guide to help you out. Enjoy.
Prior to Exam:
1. Concentrate In Lessons
No kidding! If you grasp a fairly good understanding first time round it gives you a firm foundation to build upon. After all, you can’t expect to excel if you don’t know the basics.
2. Do Your Own Research
Familiarise yourself with the topic and related issues. I don’t know if you’ve realized, but exams (majority of the time) aren’t on what you’ve learnt but around it! Read articles and gather information from different sources other than your text books. A good website is Wikipedia – the online encyclopedia. It’s also a good idea to use revision guides such a CGP Books (UK). Always write notes to help you digest the new information. Beat the examiners at their game – be one step ahead.
You have two types of memory – short-term and long-term. Learning something once round results in it being stored in you short-term memory where it may be discarded after some time. Repetition of it transfers the information into your long-term memory, and continuation strengthens it so you’ll never forget. Aim to have covered the whole topic at least 3 times way before the exam, just because you know it now does not mean you’ll know it then!
Learning it is not enough, you have to get yourself used to manipulating, applying and adapting to different scenarios. You have to use your knowledge, put it into practice, that’s what the ‘real’ world is all about and that’s what examiners want to see from you.
5. Past Exam Board Papers
All exam papers of a board are consistent in style but can be a lot different to your normal exercises. Prepare yourself. Do as many past papers as you can, this will allow you to become familiar will the style of the papers and also give you the opportunity to assess yourself. After each paper, go over the question you got wrong or were unsure about and get it right. Be sure to get the papers off the correct examination board: you’ll find them on their websites, and don’t stop till you’ve done them all. Practice makes perfect.
6. The Tougher Ones
Things like lists and formulae that you find hard to learn and keep slipping from you mind – I’m afraid there’s only one way to keep it in there – memorise it! Everyday, for 15 minutes (or however long you need) say it to yourself till you’re ‘reciting’ it from the top if your head. You may find you’ve forgotten it the next day but it’s a matter of continuation, keep at it, refresh your memory everyday and especially on the morning of your exam. But don’t spend all your time on it and ONLY use this method in extreme cases as your last resort, when all else has failed.
Revision is a very general term for preparation; it can be anything from staring at your text book to playing games on Bitesize. It is important you utilize your time before exams without putting too much pressure on yourself.
Educational games are an interesting form of revision, using the ‘apply-your-knowledge’ technique but don’t rely on them too much and be sure they really are educational!
2. Flash/Cue Cards
Make small notes on pocket sized cards of the more difficult things to jog your memory, take them out whenever you catch yourself sitting doing nothing.
After having thoroughly completed your ‘studying and research’ make a note form copy of all your information. Bullet points under headings really help. You don’t want to cloud your brain with too much info just before the exam. Small and concise bullet points will do, just to get you on the right track.
Where ever you can, draw diagrams to demonstrate points. The human brain finds it easier to recall pictures and colours over words. It’s a brilliant device if you’re a ‘visual’ personal like me!
- Have a quick read over your cure cards and if need-be (hopefully not) re-memorize the ‘toughie’ so it’s on the tip of your tongue.
- As for the rest of the day R.E.L.A.X! Stressing will only make your head throb and wears you down. You need a fresh, clear and calm mind to tackle the paper(s).
- Have a good breakfast, a fruit of two and a swig of juice.
- You may feel panicky about forgetting everything you’ve learnt but chill-ax! It’s natural to feel like that. When the paper is in front of you, your long-memory will kick in and you’ll surprise yourself with the amount and depth you can recall, given that you’ve tried your best.
- Avoid ‘discussion’ of papers; it’ll only get you tense.
- Be good to yourself, give yourself a breather, a night to unwind but don’t get too caught up.
- No-doubt you’ll have more exams yet to come, keep at it while you’re in the flow.
Don’t kick yourself if you think you’ve messed up, you gave it all you got and that’s the most important thing. Don’t dwell over ‘results day’ get on with your work, don’t let yourself even think about it, remember: what’s done is done.
And finally, I wish you the very best of luck!