Last week I blogged about how I’d been to Larbert High School and talked to some S5 pupils about preparing for and dealing with exams. In that post, I offered my general tips for reducing the harmful stress that can come with exams. I also talked about how training for exams is just like training for a big sporting competition or match – your body and brain are your temple! [Edited to add: sorry, that post was lost in a subsequent website redesign!]
Today, I want to talk about planning ahead. It’s the key to achieving your potential. The preparation starts the day you get your exam time-table, which should be at least a month (probably longer) before the first exam. The moment you get the time-table, you can begin to plan.
Here’s how, step-by-step!
1. Get a big piece of paper – or several sheets of A4 – and create either a list of days, or a grid like a time-table. You need a space for each day from NOW until the LAST DAY OF EXAMS. Add the date to each space.
2. Call the FIRST exam day E-DAY. Starting from 30 days before E-DAY, count down so that the day before E-DAY has a 1 on it. This tells you how many days you have to go before exams start.
3. Draw a line halfway through each space to show morning and afternoon.
4. Next, fill in the following information:
- Each exam date.
- Any days or halfdays when you know you won’t be able to revise – eg you have a family trip, doctor’s appointment etc etc.
- Make a note a week or more before E-DAY to check all your stationery and other equipment.
- Make a note three weeks or more before E-DAY to start sleep training. (I’ll be blogging later about this.)
- Make a note two weeks or more before E-DAY to decide on and buy the exam food you will need. (I’ll blog about this.)
- Make a note once a week to practise a relaxation or anti-panic strategy. (I’ll be blogging about this and giving you some techniques.)
- Build in some half days off.
5. Now, carefully decide and fill in which subjects you will revise on each day. Think about the following:
- Some subjects require more revision than others.
- Don’t leave your least favourite subjects till last.
- Our brains remember best if we keep coming back to something. So, it’s good to revise something, then leave it to do another subject, then come back to the first one a few days later.
- It’s best if every subject gets three stages of revision: Stage 1 where you make all your notes and go over them; stage 2 where you go over the notes again, rewriting them in more condensed form; stage 3 where you go over those notes again close to the exam.
- Build in some time for when things go wrong. For example, you might be ill or something might take longer than you planned, so don’t pack everything in too tightly.
If you’d like a free sheet that has lots of tips and shows you more about how to make your time-table, download the one I made here.
Call me a sad woman but I used to love making my exam plan time-table. It beats doing the actual revision :(. Seriously, it really helps you gain control over a difficult situation.
I’ll be back soon with more tips and strategies to make your exams go as well as possible. I was at a lovely school last week – Eyemouth High School – and some impressive S5 boys were very interested in all this stuff, so I hope they see it!
Any questions? You know where to find me! Or just comment below.