Exams are Back! How to Help Students Prepare

Posted in Featured, Math Tutoring, Science Tutoring, Tips & Advice

Exams are Back! How to Help Students Prepare

Ready or not, exams are coming! Our goal is to help students be ready, which in turn will help everyone feel relaxed. Afterall, exam season is known to be stressful in the best of times. For many secondary students, the upcoming June exams will be the first formal examinations they have written in their high school careers.  For others, a refresher may be needed after years of cancellations due to the pandemic. To help with the transition back to traditional evaluations, our tutoring team has rounded up suggestions for students, everything from how to study in advance to tips for the actual exam day itself!

Exam prep pointers for students:

Start early

It’s never too early to start organizing yourself, your study space, and your notes to review for your exams.  As soon as you know your exam schedule, you can develop a study plan.  If you don’t have an exam schedule yet, you can still develop a study plan.  Start your studying as soon as you can, prioritizing your most challenging subjects.

Understand the material to be covered on the exam

Check with your teacher to ensure you are clear on their expectations of what course material will be covered by the exam.  That will help you determine how much time to allocate to studying each subject.

Develop a study plan

Depending on the number of exams you have to write and the amount of content to be covered, you could be balancing a number of competing interests.  Lay out your study schedule starting from the day you write the exam(s) and plan backwards from there to ensure you leave enough time for each subject to study. 

Spread studying out

Don’t try to do it all in one sitting – spread the studying out. Decide on the maximum number of hours you have to devote to studying, then divide out that time between the subjects.  Spend the majority of time on the subjects that are most challenging, but be sure to ensure you have time for them all.

Plan regular breaks

While consistent studying is important, so is taking regular breaks.  Ensure you get up, stretch, get a drink of water and have a healthy snack before getting right back to studying.  Changing between subjects sometimes helps you refresh and refocus.

Organize your study space

Remove all the distractions.  If possible, study in a quiet space that’s dedicated to work – remove your electronics (unless you’re using them for studying!), stock up on healthy snacks and make sure you have plenty of water to stay hydrated.  Make sure you have everything you need – paper, pens/pencils, highlighters, electronic notes, good lighting, and a comfortable seating place.  Having a good, positive space for studying can help you focus.

Form a study group

Get your friends together and study together!  Come with questions for each other and answer them for each other – hearing your thoughts out loud might help you make better connections.  You can do this in person or virtually.  Testing each other will help you think of possible exam questions.  Another idea is to teach a section to the others in your study group.  Becoming an expert will help you truly understand the material.

Know how you learn best

Once you know how you best learn, you can tailor your studying to best meet your learning needs.  Here are just a few suggestions for the different learning styles:

Auditory learners – record your study notes and listen to them – find mnemonics or songs that will help you remember details.

Visual learners – write out your study notes and read them back to yourself – colour code your notes or use flashcards or post-its to help organize your studying and remember the details.

Kinesthetic learners – work to find connections to your world – focusing on the relationships and the bigger concepts will make it easier for you to remember details.

Regardless of how you learn, try to imagine the kinds of questions that might be asked on the exam and develop answers for each.

Ask for help

An advantage of studying in advance is that it allows time to get support and clarification on concepts. This can be with your tutor, classmates, family members, teachers or a combination. Don’t be shy, ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Remember to relax!

Be sure to get plenty of sleep, relax and bring your best to the exam!

Exam day strategies

Know your exam schedule

Read your exam schedule carefully, have it readily accessible or visible on a calendar to ensure you arrive to the correct subject exam at the appropriate time. There are severe consequences for missing an exam without a justified reason, and this includes not being able to write it again.

Arrive early

Punctuality is key. Arrive early for your exam at least 10 minutes in advance.  If you are late, extra time is not provided, and you only have the balance of remaining time to complete the exam.

Be prepared with permitted materials

Bring all permitted supplies such as pens, pencils, erasers, mathematical instruments, and anything else recommended.  A bottle of water is helpful to stay hydrated.

Have a test-taking plan of attack

As soon as you are in your seat, jot down any important facts you want to ensure you remember. Decide in advance on a way to approach the exam.  Some students like to read the whole exam first and start with the questions worth the most marks; others like to work through questions one by one without previewing them.  Whatever works for you is the best way to approach it – there is no one right way!

Monitor and utilize your time

Take advantage of all the time allocated. Be sure to also watch your time – work to finish early so you have time to review your answers and add detail to them as needed.

Try your best

Always try to answer all questions to attempt a solution. Remember that no marks are awarded for blank sections. Completing an exam in full to the best of your abilities will also help with maintaining healthy self-esteem and confidence about the experience.

We hope our tips help for a successful and stress-free exam transition. Good luck on your finals!

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