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Exam Hints & Tips


Before the Exam

Preparing for exams can be a daunting task, but it will improve your chances of succeeding, so it’s got to be worth it.

Changing your study and revision habits can increase your chances of success in the exam – and for your future.


  • Take control and start early. Make a realistic revision timetable based on the time available.

  • Choose a quiet comfortable area to study in. If you can’t work at home, go to your local library or a nearby relative.

  • Concentrate on your weakest subject areas first.

  • Revise in blocks of 30 minutes and then have a break for 10 minutes. It is not good to revise continuously without stopping.

  • Simply reading your notes or textbooks does not help you to remember. As you read, create your own set of revision postcards. They can be used for brief notes, spider diagrams, pictures, lists of key words and your acronyms for key ideas.

  • Practise writing to time by using questions from past exam papers. This is a great confidence builder and helps you practise planning an answer.

  • Assign some time to work with a friend. Go through a difficult topic and test each other. Get the support of your family as well. They can all help with timing and testing.

  • Have a good night’s sleep before the exam and don’t stay up late. Read through your revision cards and then relax at home.

  • Keep your energy levels up and ensure you eat breakfast on the day of the exam. Active brains need a balanced diet – eat sensibly, don’t skip meals or make do with snacks.

  • Check on the starting time, allow plenty of time to get there and check that you have everything you need. Make yourself a checklist.


During the Exam

Keep calm and focused on the task at hand. Remember to read all the instructions before putting pen to paper and make sure you allocate your time carefully in order to answer all the required questions. Everyone gets nervous in exams. Take a deep breath before you go in and remember these basic guidelines:


  • Even though you may be nervous or worried, listen to what the person in charge tells you to do. If it is a written exam, read the instructions on the question paper carefully before you start writing.

  • If you do not know an answer on the day, do not leave a blank space. Take an educated guess. If you are unsure of an answer go with your instinct. Remember that by completing the paper, you will stand more of a chance of attaining more marks. By leaving answers blank you are not allowing yourself to pick up any marks. Remember, you want to gain as many marks as possible and you will not achieve this by leaving blank spaces.

  • Make sure that you read the question thoroughly and that you know exactly what you are expected to do.

  • It is useful to underline key words in questions, especially verbs and ‘wh’ question words. For example, underline words like complete, draw, comment on, give examples of, how, who, what, which, when and where. This will help you to understand how you must answer the question. If you are writing a long answer like an essay or an opinion piece, continuously revert back to the question to make sure that you are not going off on a tangent and that you are keeping in line with what has been asked of you.

  • If you finish your exam early, do not leave, read over the paper ensuring you have answered the correct number of questions and read over your answers.


After the Exam


  • Don’t worry about your previous examination – you can’t do anything about it – try and focus on your next one instead.

  • Try not to talk to fellow candidates after the exam about how you think you did. Even though you may have found it harder than other people, you may have answered the question better.

  • Don’t let your exams get you down; talk to your teachers, family or friends.   

  • Don’t dwell on your performance – concentrate on preparing for your next exam.


Study links

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