You’ve all heard the saying: ‘preparation is key.’ When it comes to exams, preparation involves reviewing the content, making study notes, spending time learning this information and doing practice questions as an exam simulation.
Everybody wants perfect study notes, though it’s important to ensure you don’t prioritise aesthetics over quality. Writing study notes must be simple, effective and by following these tips will have increased benefit:
Exam focus is not effective without a healthy mindset. Sleep, exercise and relaxation all lead to a better mental state to help you focus and achieve exam goals. Sleep is crucial for the night before an exam allowing greater focus and your memory recall. With a stronger memory you can effectively remember information you have learnt and retained over your time studying for the exam. When preparing for an exam and in particular sacrificing sleep to cram for an exam the night before is actually counterproductive. A healthy body means a healthy mind, this is why making time to have a break and exercise while preparing for exams is crucial. It releases tension, stress, clears your mind and sends positive endorphins into your body. Like exercise, relaxation techniques are a great way to de-stress, focus and stay calm before sitting an exam.
You must understand the question before jumping straight into answering it. Read the question at least two or three times then begin to pull it apart by identifying the verb and key concepts used in the question. The commonly used verbs are for example; analyse, discuss, explain and define and these will be how you structure your answer. Underlining the key concepts and ideas in the question will help you organise learnt content to relate to these keywords in which the question is asking.
Structure is a great way to organise your thoughts and information and to ensure you complete all questions in time. Structure involves managing your time and planning the structure of your answer for each section of an exam for example; multiple choice, short answers and essays. I bet your teacher always says do not ‘word vomit’, well without taking time to structure your answer it is more likely for you to write down everything you know without answering the question properly or your response doesn’t have any structure.
Answer the question
Number one rule to answering a question is reading the question thoroughly and not rushing your response. If you have time, plan your answer around the question before starting to write. Be sure to incorporate the key terms and concepts in your response to make sure you are answering the question. Lastly and most importantly, always refer to the question at the start and always refer back to the question when you are summarising your response.
Having a plan of how to attack the exam prior to starting is integral to a successful exam execution. A simple strategy is to divide the total number of marks by the number of minutes you have to complete the exam. For example, if you have 40 minutes to answer 3 questions adding to a total of 20 marks then you can deduce that you have 2 minutes for each mark. Therefore you should spend no more than six minutes answering a three mark question.
Proofreading is an integral skill which should be highly prioritised in order to ensure the maximum readability and quality of your work. The time pressure of exams can make proofreading feel unnecessary, however Platute tutors believe there is great value in spending 5 minutes at the end reading over and editing your work. Think like a marker by asking yourself: how could this be improved? Is this the best answer?