It’s perfectly natural for high school kids to be nervous, apprehensive and even utterly fearful of the final exams looming at the end of their semester, as even at this young age these tests have never been more important in securing places in further education or career opportunities. However the good news is that going through this examination period has equally never seen so much support and good advice being available to students, and in this article we are going to look at a number of ways that effective preparation can go a long way in securing a strong set of grades.
The first thing that a student needs to consider is when they ought to start the process of preparing for their final exams. While some may find that a couple of weeks of ‘cramming’ before their are due in the exam hall will suffice, the proven reality for the majority of people is that success will come more likely is revision and preparation is started much earlier. Over the course of the academic year students need to absorb a huge amount of information that is easily forgotten as months pass by and the focus in class shifts between topics, so it is essential to ensure that notes are kept well organized, detailed and entirely accurate. Use a number of binders that focus exclusively on certain topics, so that they may be easily referenced and browsed.
It is essential to plan a preparation schedule well in advance of the weeks before the exam dates, while taking care to ensure that that the schedule is both realistic and equally encompasses all subjects that need to be covered. When constructing this plan consider that it is good practice to begin serious preparation three months before the examination period, with low intensity sessions of an hour or so in the evenings for the first four weeks slowly building up into twice as long in the run up to the exams themselves. This structure allows for a gentle introduction that should not take too much time or attention away from the classes that will still be running, and hopefully create a positive attitude to study that is essential when entering the exam period.
Depending on the topic it can make preparation much more interesting to work with a couple of classmates should it be appropriate. This is especially true of more linguistic, humanitarian and creative classes such as english, history and overseas languages and provides what can sometimes feel a much needed social dimension to the rigors of getting ready to take a series of important examinations. A sensible balance of private to shared sessions would be an approximate ratio of 3:1, however this may vary depending upon which specialisms the student is focussing upon.
Schools will hold extensive numbers of papers from past exams that provide an excellent resource that should be considered as essential to students looking to be as well prepared as possible. Not only do these papers allow the student to be familiar with the typical layout of the examination papers, but with repeated practice they reinforce understanding of the topic and their ability to present it to the examiner. One caveat of using past papers is to remember that they should not be taken as suggestive of what to expect in this years examination – believe it or not but examination boards have no system or pattern in setting what their papers will focus upon in a given year. They should be used to practice and reinforce understanding of the overall topic, and not as a crystal ball into guessing the future!
When drawing close to the start of exams students ought to be spending up to three hours or so in private study per evening. This may sound like a great deal after a full day in class, however it is important to remember that this three hours should also incorporate twenty minutes of break times per hour. Many studies have confirmed that people absorb information better and retain it for longer than if they merely stare at books or a screen for hours on end, taking regular breaks allows the mind to refresh itself and be primed to absorb more detail during the next session.
On a similar vein be sure to take enough sleep each night, as this helps the brain to subconsciously process and store the information that it has taken onboard. Students learning lists of processes, foreign words or facts and figures will often find that they may go to bed feeling that the information hasn’t been fully understood, only to find it immediately at hand the next morning when they wake.
Diet plays an essential role in helping to keep our minds active and efficient, and there’s never a more important time to keep a regular and healthy diet than when preparing for final exams. Mealtimes should be regular and well balanced, with particular focus upon a good breakfast and keeping energy levels high with occasional healthy snacks such as fruit or nuts over the course of the day. Caffeine ought to be avoided in any great quantity, especially in the evening as it can seriously diminish the quality of sleep.
Of course for those with particular concerns over a subject, especially an important one such as maths, there is always the option of engaging the services of a professional Math Tutor. Many students find that a private tutor is able to present concepts and ideas in an alternative way to that they may have been taught in school, and in due course find that their understanding and ability improve drastically. Math tutoring can for this very reason be essential in getting some students the successful grades that are commonly a prerequisite for acceptance into further education or a quality career.