People often find taking an exam to be a challenging, stressful ordeal. But this doesn’t have to be the case, and with the right preparations you can improve the experience, mitigate the stress, and perform at your best. Here are our top exam (and exam prep.) tips:
If you are taking your exam from home, spare a thought for the environment you’re in. A space can really affect your concentration and mindset. If you’ve been studying at home too, you will likely already know this, and perhaps even have a preferred spot for your studies.
Have a quick tidy up to minimise the ‘noise’ in the room too. A clutter-free environment can help you focus and prevent distractions. Likewise, ‘decluttering’ your tech can be beneficial too. Put your phone on to aeroplane mode or do not disturb, and close all other tabs and windows, especially your email notifications. Similarly, be sure to have anything that you do need to hand – books, calculators, notes, whatever it may be, you don’t want to have to waste time hunting for these during the exam.
Just as you may have a favourite environment to work in, you might have learned from studying what time of day best suits you. In the case of an online exam where you have a choice, choosing the optimum time of day can boost your focus and therefore the outcome of your exam. Perhaps you’re an early bird and are most productive in the morning, or maybe your mind focuses better and you are more motivated in the evening.
In terms of preparation for an exam, having a ‘study buddy’ not only optimises your studies but also motivates you ahead of the exam. If you can pair up with someone who is taking the same course as you, or even just has an upcoming exam around the same time as you, it can be hugely beneficial for moral support. Maybe you can quiz one another or share study tips, or they can just be there for comfort if you are feeling anxious ahead of the exam. At ILX, we have a team of experienced tutors on hand who can support you on your journey. Check out our ILX Player app and our e-learning support portal where you can get expert advice and fast, efficient answers to all of your questions.
For the best chance of success, only take the exam when you are ready. If you are lucky enough to be on a course which includes exam simulators or preparation quizzes, then routinely utilise these to your advantage. Take the mock exams until you achieve the pass rate and research practice questions.
It is important to be mentally prepared – swat up beforehand, make revision cards or whatever works for you. Exposure helps us to remember, so put flash cards where you will regularly see them, and revise and recite the information until it sticks in your memory. Taking the exam too soon comes with a risk of failure, which can be damaging to your confidence, so ensure you are ready.
Almost as important as being mentally prepared is being physically ready. Okay, so you’re taking an exam, not running a marathon! But the premise is the same. Ensuring all your conditions are correct ahead of the event will better your chances of success!
Make sure you have had a decent night's sleep, so your brain is at optimum level, and eat ahead of the exam. Remember food is fuel, and it can help your concentration to eat beforehand rather than waiting until after. Similarly, stay hydrated and have a drink handy during your exam. If you are feeling anxious beforehand, don't underestimate the power of going for a walk. Being out in the fresh air can calm your mind and body, plus it gets your blood pumping!
When it comes to tips for during the exam, a classic tip - not to be overlooked - is to read the questions twice! It can be all too easy to skim read or make assumptions if you are working through your exam in a rush. But by slowing down and taking the time to read the questions properly, you can avoid costly mistakes. And in the case of multiple choice questions, it is worth reading the answers twice too!
Finally, try and spare time at the end to read back through your answers. Add anything you need to, and come away with that sense of pride that you have done your very best.