Appendix 3 - Personal Skills

Being prepared for tests and exams requires training and dedication in the same way as being fit to play football or run a marathon. The following tips and hints will help you arrive well-prepared for the ordeal that awaits.

Self study

Make a study timetable, breaking the day into study periods. Be realistic about the time that you are able to concentrate per session. Assign appropriate sessions to each exam.

Whenever you sit down for a study session, decide on the specific task that you are going to tackle. Have a definite goal or focus for each session.

Make a 'refusal sheet' to chart the times when you managed to avoid a distraction. Each refusal that you enter counts as a success.

Do not just read notes. Make condensed notes and bullet points from personal notes and texts. Try to expand the condensed bullet points into full notes again. Repeat the process over and over again if facts wont 'stick'.

Use flash cards and other condensed notes. If you can fill in the missing parts from memory then you have that part of the subject under control.

Revise at the time that is appropriate for you. Many people work late into the night believing that this is the 'cool' thing to do. There are, however many people who work more efficiently in the mornings. Try out different revision times and see which works best for you.


Private life

Eat well, sleep well and set aside some time for some exercise.

The examinations period is not a good time to think about making major changes in social or family context. Keep your emotional life on an even keel. Continue to play your part at home, but do not take on any new responsibilities at this time.

Certainly do not introduce factors that increase the levels of stress, such as giving up smoking (or starting!)


The exam itself

Be well-prepared. Take all appropriate writing, calculating and drawing instruments with you. Make sure that you know what you are, and are not, allowed to take into the exam room with you.

Know the exam. You can't know exactly what will appear on the day, but it's good to know things such as the style of the questions, the number of sections, the time allowed etc. It is important to be clear about your options and how to distribute the time available in the exam room.

Do not leave before the end of the exam unless you are absolutely certain that you have everything correct. Don't spend the time sleeping - there's always time for that later. Check and recheck your answers AND re-read the questions to make sure that you have understood the requirements. If you have time, try to match the number of marks given per part of each question to a specific number of facts.

Never leave anything blank, unless you will be penalised for a wrong answer (this happens with very few exam boards). If you have to guess, do so at the very end after trying to link the topic with all the other topics in the exam.

Develop academic selfishness and a talent for showing off. Examinations systems are about you, your knowledge and your skills. Show what you can do to make the system reward you with a good grade.

With thanks to RG Pairadeau