Our Hot Tips to bringing out the best YOU during exams
Ok, so I am not going to tell a lie. An exam really is one of the most stressful events to do with education. They stress us out, trick us, make us stay up all night, make us have mind blanks and so on. So, are exams a fair way of assessing you? Well, the answer is both yes and no. Exams are designed to assess your brains ability to recount what it has learnt throughout the term (or longer). What it doesn’t allow you to demonstrate are the many other ways in which you could show your knowledge of the topic. Humans are all unique, varying and wonderful people which means we all learn in a variety of ways. I myself was always just ‘ok’ at exams. Being extroverted, I felt constrained by exams, I was stripped of my usual ability to explain things using simple language, my voice and hand gestures for example. I was instead, asked to demonstrate what I knew using a very rigid format that was far too formal for my liking. I was never going to be the best at them, but I managed to survive. Nowadays I have the memory of a goldfish, but once upon a time I had a good enough memory to achieve decent scores in my high school or university exams. So…listen up because here are my hot tips to being the best YOU can be during your exams.
1. Preparing for your exams
Don’t just write down some notes from an online tutorial, or from Wikipedia the night before. It is important to go over your notes from the term or semester. The best way to avoid having to write and memorise tonnes of notes at the last minute is to spend an extra 10 minutes at home after uni/school. Sit down and simply write down what you remember for each specific class you had that day. What were the main things you were taught? What were some examples you used to help understand this? What were some other interesting things you discussed during class time? It is important to try to use your own words when writing up your notes because if you can’t do this, you didn’t understand the lesson fully and you need to clarify with your teacher or tutor to make sure you do. Don’t leave your note taking summary for the next day because you will forget. Do it while it’s still fresh.
2. Self Help and Self Care
Having studied for decades (way too many now to be honest), I know how most students fail to look after their precious selves. I was one of those students, who stayed up all night, ate take-out and never left enough time for studying because I thought my social life was more important. Yes social life is important, but not as important as your future. I have stayed up all night to finish that assessment, driven to university with no sleep and almost driven off the motorway getting there. You brain will not function without it being nurtured. Exercise at least twice a week, go to bed at regular times, avoid caffeine late at night and get enough rest. If you don’t do these simple things, you will burn out and you won’t be functioning at your best. You don’t want that exam paper to be the only thing to be a hot mess!
3. During the exam
Play your own game. I know that most of you would probably freak out during an exam when you hear the rustling of papers from the super smart girl next to you, or the frantic scribbling from that person who seemed to ‘not care’ in class but all the sudden looks like he’s smashing this exam? Focusing too much on others will only lead you to panic and freeze up. Go in there, set up your own space, read your exam and calculate how much time you need to dedicate to each section. Plan your response with dot points/key ideas and begin your answers. A planned response will keep your work on track and enable you to remember important points just in case your mind does begin to wonder over to super smart girl or usually silly but now smart boy. It is important that you do what works for you. You are your own best judge so remain calm and focus on taking your time and doing the best you can. This exam is about you, not anyone else. Also, don’t ever get distracted by people finishing early or leaving the exam half an hour before it is due to end. This just usually means they didn’t know anything or that they didn’t really care. That isn’t you! Keep your head down and use up every single second you have. Triple check your work and make it the absolute best it can be. No regrets!
Unlike your other assessments, exams are usually treated differently by markers who often try to ‘find’ you points in exams rather than subtract them. We know that you have not had the time to work on your written expression, structure or presentation. What is important is getting the key information, facts and analysis out and making sure you show off what you remember from the term. This is your time to shine so throw in a special quote that stood out to you, or the name of your teachers favourite theorist (you will get extra points believe me). Exams are tough, and anything extra you can jot down should help. If you run out of time, jot down anything, even if they are dot points. 1 mark is worth doing anything for…that’s why you’re reading this post right? 😉
5. Post Mortems
Once the exam is over, don’t fall into the trap of discussing it with your friends. This type of engagement is at best, a form of psychological warfare. Your friends will try to extract information from you to show off how well they think they did or to ascertain how poorly they did. Do you really want to feel bad if you soon realise you got an answer wrong? It just isn’t worth it believe me. Once the exam is up, let it go…let it go. You can’t change history so you are better to focus on what you can change and move forward. You should instead be congratulating yourself for doing the best you could, especially after reading Dr. Evvie’s hot exam tips right? 😉
Think about YOU and what YOU can do during exam periods to unlock your true potential. As my mother always said to me, if you did your best that’s all you can ask for.
By Dr Evvie Smith
Owner and Founder at Stay True Stay You