Planning for exams
If you are taking exams for the first time or not, it is normal to feel nervous.
The key thing is to give yourself plenty of time to revise and feel comfortable ahead of the exams.
Before your exam
Ok, so you should have the dates of all of your exams. It is now time to start planning!
- Grab a calendar, a large wall chart or a notebook and mark out the dates of each exam.
- Work out backwards to at least 4-6 weeks before each exam to plan when you will revise each subject.
- Try to mix up the subjects to keep your revision fresh.
- Give a copy to your parents/carer to keep them aware of the key dates.
- Read the full details of what is expected from every exam and how long it will last. You may need to answer up to 3 essay questions from a choice of 6 or it could be a multiple choice style exam.
- Ask your teachers for some past papers so you can test yourself against them.
- Make the most of any extra revision classes on offer at your school or college.
You will need to find a way to revise that suits you.
Below are some helpful tips:
- Give yourself plenty of time to go through each subject.
- Write the key points from each topic into a spider diagram.
- Use different coloured paper or pens to make it easy to understand.
- Cue cards are useful to write down key points and easy to carry around with you.
Before the day of the exam, try to get a good night sleep. Set your alarm to wake up in good time to help you arrive at the exam on time.
Two exams in one day
Sometimes you may have to take more than one exam in a day. That means being a bit more organised:
- Work out what you will do in between both exams.
- Plan a break and have something to eat.
- Find out if there is somewhere where you can go in between each exam. e.g. library or study rooms.
- If you have friend who lives near your school or college, ask if you can go back with them to prepare for your next exam.
- Or arrange for your parent/carer to pick you up and take you back later. Exam day
- Try to keep relaxed on the day of the exam.
- Make sure you have had something to eat and drink before the exam.
- Check which room the exam is in. It may be in a part of the school or college that you have not been to before.
- Don’t try to cram in any further revision as it may make you more nervous.
During the exam
Before you start writing:
- Read the instructions on the front of the paper carefully;
- Make sure you know how many questions you should be answering;
- Read the questions slowly, then read them again - it’s all too easy to misread when you are nervous;
- If you have a choice, pick the questions you think you can answer best;
- Allow enough time to answer all the questions and to check back over your work – and try to stick to the right amount of time needed;
- Try not to panic if you are unable to answer a question. Move on to the next question and come back to that one later;
- Take care with your presentation - your answers need to be clear for the examiner to read;
- Plus, don’t forget, you are not allowed to talk to other students or have your mobile phone or MP3 player on, otherwise you may be asked to leave and not allowed to complete your exam.
After the exam
Avoid talking with your friends about the questions you answered as you may start to worry about what you did. Instead, take a break and have something to eat or drink.
Get prepared and beat the stress
You may or may not get worried about your exams and what grades you need to achieve to get into college or uni.
To avoid getting stressed out, start planning early, attend revision classes, and talk to your tutor or your parents about your exam revision to help manage your nerves.
For tips and advice around preparing for exams get advice and stories from other young people on The Mix, including revision tips.
Here are students from Samuel Ward Academy giving their top tips on coping with exam stress.
If you're feeling stressed, check out our page on stress with tips for de-stressing.
The Mix has some great advice on dealing with exams and exam stress.
Download the Stressheads app - hatch a stress egg and take your stress out by throwing the Stressheads around!
What can I do if stress is taking over?
Make some time for self care with this awesome guide from Young Minds
Try to look after yourself by eating well, resting, taking a little exercise and the time to do the things you enjoy. For more ideas check out the Whats Up challenge.
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