Exams are a difficult time for everyone, especially people who are new to adult learning, but one of the best ways to take the stress out of the exams is to prepare properly. We thought it would be useful for all our delegates (whichever qualification you have decided to obtain) to give you a few hints and tips to make the whole process as stress-free as possible.
Remember, that what works for one person might not be good for another. We all need to try out different methods and find out what works well for both us and the type of exam we are taking e.g. multiple choice, essay etc.
Plan ahead – Read through what you have learnt each day on your course. This could be straight after, that evening or before the next day. Research shows that this really does help you remember better.
Make revision material as you go through each topic. These cards take very little time to do, help you to interact with the material and can form the basis of your final revision, thus saving time and cramming before the exam.
Make a revision plan – focusing especially on the topics that need more work, but be prepared to be flexible – things don’t always go to plan. Be sure to schedule in breaks too.
Create resources –
Timelines – can be helpful. They are invaluable for making sense of a series of events or processes e.g. project life cycles. Pin them up in your room or on the loo wall.
Annotations – highlight key points from text and write down helpful notes on how to remember things.
Cue cards – note /cue cards are always handy for when you’re out and about. List definitions and rules you need to know. Or write key words from which you can fill in the gaps to tell the story. These can then always be referred to at any time or place convenient to you.
Mind Maps – mind maps help you generate ideas and make associations. They can also act as a powerful memory aid in an examination because they are visual.
The main principles are as follows:
1. Note down the points in a spray pattern, starting from the centre and working outwards.
2. Keep your points brief – use key words, authors, theories or processes.
3. Use lines to show connections between things.
4. Be prepared to re-work the map until you are happy with the organisation.
5. Include colour, symbols and pictures to make it more memorable.
Mini Revision Booklet – Take a topic heading for your subject and a few pieces of paper and then attempt to write concise summary’s containing key information under each. This is a useful way to see what you know and create a resource that is easy to understand.
Past Papers and Questions –
Practice essay writing – perfect your essay technique and practice in the time allotted for the exam. For many of us, we will not have written for 3 hours solid in a very long time!
When attempting past papers, always answer the question!
Past exam questions – Tests can help check up how well things are going in – try running through old exam papers, or make up questions to answer.
- Keep motivated – remember the reasons why you are studying
- Take plenty of breaks and have rewards
- Take some time to exercise – exercise is a great antidote for stress and depression, and a break in the fresh air can make things seem so much clearer.
- Get plenty of sleep – It’s a good idea to have a break from revision before going to bed – exercise, have a relaxing bath, read a book or phone a friend. Don’t eat too late and don’t drink too much – both will disturb sleep.
- Eat well – When trying to fit revision round jobs and families, it gets hard to find time to eat well. Eat plenty of low fat protein and slow-release carbohydrates, and avoid too much sugar, fat and caffeine.
- Don’t cram all your revision into the night before the exam ! plan your revision and you will remember much more.