Exam Tips by Annette J Dunlea
Published in Carrigdhoun Newspaper 22nd May 2010 p.24
Exam time for secondary and college students is looming again so here are some survival tips. The secret to exam success is preparation and time management. As early as possible write a revision timetable and stick to it. Do your revision in a nice well lit and ventilated room and take breaks of fifteen minutes every four hours. Read past exam papers and study them for patterns. Familiarize yourself with the paper’s layout, wording and the required amount of questions to be answered. Any words you do not understand look up in the dictionary. Practice doing sample questions and time yourself. Divide the three hours into the amount of compulsory questions and note your time allocation per question. During your revision list any questions you need to ask your teacher. You could also organise a study group with your friends to provide motivation and support for one another. You could meet up in your local library.
Retain your student number and exam timetable in a safe place. The night before an exam get eight hours sleep. Do not stay up overnight as you will be exhausted and lack concentration in the exam. Rise early on the morning of your exam, have a light breakfast and bring water, mints and your stationery for your exam. Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive to your examhall. Arrange to meet good friends and avoid nervous people that could panic you. On entering exam hall inhale a deep breath and listen to your inner self and positive thoughts. Practice positive mantras: I Can Do This and I Am Great.
Upon receiving the exam paper read it briefly in total. Identify the questions you want to answer. Turn over the exam paper to see if there is anything written on the back. Put your hand up and ask the supervisor for a second copy for your rough work. Make sure your student number and paper title is written on all copies and loose paper, include and number all rough work. Select the questions you want to answer. Read them carefully and break them down into sections. On rough work copy draw a spider web for each question put topic in the middle and draw lines listing each point you want to include. Do this for all questions. Tick off the sections as you answer them. Write your best question first into your answer book and your weakest in the middle and end on a strong answer. This it to commence with and end with a good impression by the examiner. Write neatly and clearly identify all question numbers and subsections. If you cannot finish a question leave a blank space and come back to it at the end of the exam. There are more points for the first half of a question that the end of the previous question so if you are running out of time start the next question. If you find you cannot complete the paper just simply write running out of time and list the rest of the answer in a points. If you can supplement any question with a drawing do so. At the end of the exam read your answers, check spellings and double check you answered all required questions.
Exam halls are open long cold places and body temperature can change when your under pressure so where a warm jumper or cardigan you can take off later if need be. Try to stay positive and relax and concentrate on doing your best. During your exams eat properly and be sure to take plenty of fluids. Exercise is a great way of relaxing and pumping oxygen throughout the body. Do what you enjoy: jog, swim, walk the dog or play football. Remember to take time out for yourself and allow time to chill. Different people have different calming methods to counteract stress: yoga, meditation, listen to music or burn essential oils. Be selfish don’t allow people to monopolise your time and don’t engage in post mortems of completed exams. Once an exam is over forget about it, you cannot change what you have written. Each day begin with a fresh open mind to a new paper as an opportunity to show all the information you know. Practice and perfect the creative visualisation technique it is a great calming method. Imagine you have written a great paper and imagine you have got the grade you wanted. Retain that feeling and retain it in your memory.
Avoid large meals, drugs and alcohol during exams. Revise methodically during the exams. Eat a varied and healthy diet: plenty of grains, red meat, dark leafy vegetables, beans, cereal bars, seafood and fresh fruit. Drink lots of fresh orange juice, milk, bottled water and avoid too many over stimulants tea, coffee and Red Bull and these can affect sleep patterns and concentration. Have a relaxing aromatherapy bath before you go to bed at night. Good stress relieving oils are: roman camomile, bergamot, frankincense, geranium jasmine, lavender, orange blossom, rose otto, sandalwood and vetivert. In the event that a candidate is suffering from severe stress contact the school chaplain or family gp. Stress can be a positive thing it helps focus the mind and pump adrenalin. Exams are an opportunity to show the knowledge you have learned in class. Preparation and time management are key to exam success. Stay positive and attempt all questions and do your best. Your best is good enough. The best of luck to all candidates.
Causes Annette Dunlea Supports
The National Council of The Blind, Ireland