Before the exam – revise and devise
Getting started is the most difficult bit. So get real and use the ‘10-minute rule’ whenever you get stuck.
- Ditch those four-hour sessions you planned, where only 10 minutes of actual work is done.
- Start with the 10 minutes you know you will do. Then have a 10-minute break and start again. Anyone can do that!
- When working, work and when relaxing, relax. The two don’t mix.
- No texting friends, looking out of the window or playing with the cat and your room can wait for another few years to be tidied!
- So now you have started, you’ve doubled the time you normally work in an evening and had a 10-minute break, all within the first half hour.
- Increase the working periods to 30 or 40 minutes and keep the breaks at 10 minutes or less.
- Sorted? Well ‘ish’ at least. Don’t think about it, just do it – now! Congratulate yourself for having done it.
- You’ve made a start. Whenever you have difficulty in starting something you don’t want to do, staring into space won’t help – but the ‘10-minute rule’ will.
Manage your time and plan
- Ease in an extra half hour of work a day at least, by getting up earlier or taking less time over lunch.
- Over five days that will give you a minimum of two- and-a-half hours of quality study time. You could now have an evening out.
- Cover two or three subjects in the one session. Start with the one you dislike most and then look forward to finishing with the one you like best.
- Try answering some questions from past exam papers. Your teachers will probably be able to provide these, or you can look on the exam board websites.
In the exam room
- Take six deep breaths and have a sugary sweet to boost your energy – but don’t crunch!
- Choose questions carefully and write notes on the question paper to help you remember later. And make sure you answer the question asked. There’ll be no marks if you don’t.
- If you run out of time, sometimes marks can be gained by completing your remaining answers in outline only. State what you would do and how to do it by outlining the main arguments you would include in an essay – without writing the essay – and by jotting down formulae in science – stating how you would complete the question – without doing the calculations.
After the exam
- Don’t worry about the exam you have just taken – you can’t do anything about it now. Concentrate instead on the next one, where you can make a difference.
- Being calm and thoughtful will help you to get the most out of your preparation. And if all else fails, remember that Churchill and Einstein didn’t do too well at school. Try that one on your parents.
- Otherwise, good luck.
Advice taken from George Turnbull - Ofqual's Exam Doctor