Research based advice to help reduce stress, promote motivation and preparation
Exams aren't an end in themselves but a gateway to the next stage of life. Good results are themselves the best reward for hard work and will make you feel proud of your achievements.
The brain is amazingly soft, composed primarily of fat and water. It is greyish and pudding-like - composed of 100 billion brain cells (neurons) that drive our thinking, learning, feeling and states of being. Neurons need good fats, protein, complex carbohydrates, micronutrients - vitamins, minerals - and water. These nutrients are used to drive the learning functions of neurons.
Diet Drink plenty of fluids, eat a good healthy breakfast. The fresher and more energetic you feel, the more it will support your ability to tackle the cognitive challenges Join in with family meals to have a change of scene from working on revision.
Oily fish – promotes good brain function Wholegrain – releases energy slower Blueberries – delays short term memory loss Blackberries / Vitamin C – boosts mental agility Pumpkin seeds – boosts memory and thinking skills Broccoli - A great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower
Water is necessary to maintain the tone of membranes for normal neurotransmission Water keeps the brain from overheating, which can cause cognitive decline and even damage By the time thirst is felt, there may be a loss of body weight up to 2% from water loss, and a 10% cognitive decline may be present Drink some water regularly before and during examinations
Try to take regular exercise. A brisk walk around the block can help clear the mind before the next revision session. It's important to get a good night's sleep before an exam, Don’t stay up late to cram. Exercise and Rest
Revision The secret to doing well in exams lies in planning. You can help yourself by to creating a clear revision plan and method of studying that will let you feel in control There are many websites available with ready made revision plans. The time to revise will vary. Some people concentrate better at night, others prefer to be up with the larks. What ever is decided, it is important that you stick to a consistent working pattern so that your mind and body can adjust.
Revision Make sure you have all the essential books and materials that you need Condense notes onto postcards,post it notes or flipchart paper to act as revision prompts Consider buying new stationery, highlighters and pens to make revision more interesting Try to create your own ‘revision’ space in the home that other family members acknowledge and accept that you are likely to need to be left alone to concentrate
Work out a revision timetable for each subject. Break revision time into small chunks, 40 – 60 minute sessions with short breaks at the end of each session often work well. Make a list of the subjects that need to revised for between now and the exams. Concentrate on the specific topics or modules that you are weak on.
Do not leave the most difficult or hardest subjects till the end of the day. Instead try to get these out of the way early on. After completing a revision period cross it off from the timetable. This will help to instil a sense of accomplishment. At the end of each week assess performance and change plans accordingly. Consider using different coloured pens to highlight specific classes or rank subjects according to importance. Keep the timetable flexible and be ready to change it if circumstances change. Try not to spend the whole day revising one subject.
Past papers Mark schemes Go back over recent years and consider the kind of questions that came up. Don't assume that these will be on the paper, but look at the relationship between the questions and course content. Is there a question per topic? Are topic areas combined in different ways? What is the style of the question – single focus or direct question, or does the examiner go in for questions with two or more bits?
Be prepared It is easy to forget practical details, so be clear about simple things like start times, venue, equipment, material you can or cannot bring, and so on. Being on top of all these can make a huge difference in your poise and performance and will help avoid unnecessary last- minute jitters.
During the Exam Listen to the invigilator. Read the instructions. Read all of the question at least twice. Answer the question, don’t repeat it back. Use a pencil and ruler to draw diagrams. Include units (eg. cm, Kg). Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. Where there is a choice of questions, read them all more than once and choose the one that can be best answered. Watch the clock.
Doing practice papers will have helped with this but be careful of timings. If you have one hour per question, you might allow around 10 minutes to consider the question and jot down notes, then 45-50 minutes writing time. Don't be tempted to skimp on one question to lavish time on another. The first 50% of marks in any question are easier to pick up than the next 20%. Watch the clock
Don’t dwell on mistakes As soon as one exam is over, move swiftly to focusing on the next one. Dwelling on an exam that you have completed wastes energy and time, and will drive you crazy. Remember, be positive, stay calm, and mobilise your energies to do the best job possible on the day.