Avoiding exam stress and planning your revision
Find hints and tips to help you revise effectively for exams, including advice on avoiding stress, getting help and keeping a cool head during your exam. You can also find links to health and study advice.
It’s quite normal to feel nervous at the thought of exams. The key to avoiding stress is to be well prepared. Here are some tips to conquer those exam nerves.
Identify the gaps in your understanding
You can then concentrate on improving your weaker subjects. Look at your coursework notes and identify topics that need your attention.
Make a revision timetable and stick to it
A timetable puts you in control and stops you leaving revision to the last minute. Draw up a plan for the week then divide each day into hour-long slots. Block out time for meals and some time for social activities such as meeting friends or keeping up with sport or leisure activities. Now allocate a revision topic to each remaining hour. Spend the first 10 minutes of each hour reading through your notes. Expect to be able to revise for a maximum of 40 minutes then take a break – make a drink or a snack, take some short exercise or listen to some music so you feel refreshed and ready to begin the next topic.
Create your own special study place
This needs to be space where you can work without distractions and interruptions. It might be your bedroom or a quiet place in the house. Some people find it easier to work in the local public library or at a relative’s house. Wherever you choose, the place should have the right atmosphere for you. Some people need to work in absolute quiet but others find they work best with background music. If you like to work to music, avoid songs with lyrics as these can be distracting.
Don’t simply read your notes
Copy out keywords and phrases, facts and diagrams onto postcards. Write important facts on sticky notes and put them in prominent places around the house. Make up new words to your favourite songs using the keywords you need to remember. Make posters of the important points of each revision topic and stick them up in your study space. Use the internet; there are good revision sites with online tests.
Involve friends and family
Put a copy of your revision timetable in the kitchen so everyone in the family is aware of your schedule. Write topic questions on cards, put the answers on the back then get your family to test you. Arrange to revise certain topics with friends so you can test each other on key points.
Practise your exam techniques
Remember that it’s up to you to show the examiner that you know the answers. Most school or colleges offer revision classes and use past exam papers; you can also buy revision guides from bookshops. Exam questions are usually split into parts with a certain number of marks for each section. You must answer every part of the question or you won’t get the full marks. Make sure you understand the question before you begin to answer.
Get organised before the exam
Make sure you know where the exam is going to take place, the start time and how long it will last. Check you have all the equipment you need – get it all ready the evening before. Get a good night’s sleep. Wake up on time and have something to eat. Try to get some fresh air before the start of the exam. Don’t try to do last-minute revision – it will almost certainly be too late to make a difference to your final marks!
Keep a cool head during the exam
Use the first five minutes to read through the paper, then decide which questions you are going to answer. Spend 10 minutes planning your answers. Divide the remaining time equally among the number of questions you have to answer. Start with the question that you feel you can answer most easily. When you finish each question, read through what you’ve written, check you have answered all parts of the question and correct any mistakes.
Look beyond the exams
Plan something to look forward to as a treat when your exams are over; perhaps a get together with friends, a takeaway or some new clothes. It’s important to do your very best in exams but don’t allow yourself to get too stressed. Remember that Connexions can offer advice and support if you need to rethink future plans in the light of your results.