The following tips have been shared with all of our students, but I wanted to share the pointers with parents, too, so they could help promote positive study habits at home.
These tips can help students get ready for and get through their exams. They can also help them to prepare for tests and class presentations, and tackle in-class assignments.
1. Find our about the exam
- How much is the exam worth to your overall mark in the subject?
- What type of exam is it (for example, multiple choice, essay, open book, take-home)?
- Will there be a choice of questions or tasks?
- How much will each question or task be worth? Assignments
2. Ask for help
Don’t feel bad if you need to ask for help.
People you can talk to about exams include:
- Family members
- Friends and fellow students
If you’re feeling really stressed you might also find it helpful to speak to your counselor.
3. Sort out your subject material
Before starting to review a subject it helps to:
- Check you have all of the handouts
- Put your notes in order
- Read over any course outline or subject guide
- Write your own summaries of each textbook chapter or section of the subject guide
Getting all your gear together makes it easier to find what you need while you’re studying.
4. Review past exams papers (IB, non IB: if available for your subject)
Review past papers on the subject and familiarise yourself with the structure and format.
When reviewing, practice answering the questions within the specified time limits.
5. Know where to go
Make sure you know where and when the exam is happening. You don’t want to miss your exam! Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
- Check your exam timetable for time and place details
- Make a list of everything you need to take with you (for example, calculator, pencil, ruler)
- Do some study at the same time as your exams (for example, if you have an early morning exam, practice getting up and studying earlier in the day)
6. Don’t cram
Staying up all night to cram will only stress you out. It’s better to just review what you’ve already studied and get an early night. That way you’ll be as refreshed as you can be on the day of your exam.
If you want to do some preparation the night before, keep it simple:
- Get all your materials together
- Read over your notes
- Test yourself on key concepts
- Be healthy (eat nutritiously, exercise, rest)
- Get plenty of sleep
- Set your alarm
7. Use your reading time
The way you use your reading time can really help you make the most of your exam time. Here are some ways to use your reading time well:
- Read all of the instructions very carefully
- Scan the whole exam paper.
- Check how many pages there are
- Check how much each question is worth (it helps to spend more time on heavier-weighted questions).
- Plan which questions to answer first (consider starting with questions you’re confident about).
- Plan how much time you’ll spend on each answer or section.
- Start thinking about your answers.
8. Break the questions down
A great tip for any exam is to break the questions down to make sure you really understand what you’re being asked.
Look for the key parts of the question. These can give you clues on how to answer it.
For example, for the question, “Explain the difference between study and revision”, you could split this question into four parts:
- Explain – give reasons to show how or why something is the way it is.
- The difference – what are the distinguishing factors between study and revision?
- Study – what is the study?
- Revision– what is revision?
9. Review your answers (if you can)
If you finish the exam before the time is up it’s a good idea to go back over everything, even answers you’re confident you got right. Try to:
- Review as many answers as you can
- Start with the questions you’re least confident about
- Make sure you’ve answered every question
- Make sure you’ve answered every part of every question (some questions might have multiple parts).
Come up with your own strategies.
Remember – these tips are only some of the things that you can do to get the most out of your exams. There might be other things that work even better for you.
Ask around – find out what your friends do for their exams – maybe some of their tricks will work for you too! Maybe your teachers have some good recommendations too.
For more tips and advice about exams and studying, check out this Top ten study tips page and this Online study resources page.
Top Ten Study Tips: