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Top exam tips for your GCSE and A-Level exams

The exam period is a stressful time for everyone involved. There is no doubt about it. Whether you are a parent, student or a teacher, the pressure, stress and anticipation is felt. 

It’s important not to let all your revision efforts go to waste by falling down at the last hurdle. Tutor House has come up with the following exam techniques to help students prepare for those all important and immensely stressful exam conditions.

Part 1: Before the Exams

Speak to a Private Tutor
The impact a private tutor can have on a student’s overall performance in an exam is often underestimated. Private tutors help address any key concerns a student may have regarding how to tackle exam questions, address any gaps in student’s knowledge or help boost confidence. Students with private tutors often feel better equipped when sitting exams and see a significant improvement in their performance.

Private tutors have been there and done it all before, each and every year. They come with a wealth of experience and can offer valuable insight. They can provide you with detailed guidance on how to answer questions, alongside strengthen your understanding and knowledge on the subject matter.

Mock Examinations and Practice Papers
They say ‘practice makes perfect’!. Get yourself a few past papers in each of your subjects and test yourself in exam conditions, as if you were taking the exam itself. This will not only improve your confidence but will also highlight any areas of difficulties.

Set a timer, turn off all distractions and don’t allow yourself any extra time other than what’s allocated.

Eat Healthy, Sleep Well
Leading up to and during the Examination period, it’s a good idea to get yourself into a healthy physical and mental condition.

It’s tempting to do some last minute late night cramming however lack of sleep could have adverse effects on your exam performance. It’s well documented that sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning, and sleep deprivation actually impairs attentiveness and your cognitive thought processes.

In addition, it’s important you avoid food and drinks that are notoriously bad for your short-term performance. Coffee, sweets, junk food and energy drinks are the antithesis of a healthy diet. Your brain will thank you if you choose to avoid them and go for natural brain-food alternatives like water, fruit and vegetables.

Part 2: During the Exams

Plan Your Answers
Don’t jump into your questions with a Gung-ho attitude. It may seem counter-intuitive when you’re working under timed conditions, but taking the extra time to plan and structure your answers will help enormously.

Read Through the Whole Exam Paper
Reading all of the questions on the paper before you start your exam may seem time consuming, but it will actually save you time in the long run. By knowing what’s on the paper you will subconsciously plan your answers before you start writing, you’ll also avoid any nasty surprises when turning the page.

Read the Question, Re-Read the Question
It may seem obvious, but its worth reiterating that you need to answer the question that is asked. Don’t be tempted to write down everything you know about a given topic and then create a tenuous link to what the exam is actually asking of you.

Always stick to the question. Read it a few times before you start answering. Make sure you understand what you’re being asked; be careful to pick up on any nuances that you may otherwise miss. It’s advisable to highlight any key words in questions so that there are no misunderstandings surrounding what the question is asking from you.

Do The Easier Questions First
There’s absolutely no reason to work through the questions in the order that they appear on the exam paper. You may actually find it beneficial to work on the easier questions first.

Getting a few questions under your belt will be a wonderful confidence boost, reducing feelings of dread when those inevitable harder questions come up later on. The easier questions will also take less time on average, and will ‘warm up’ your brain for the more challenging ones later on.

Cut Your Losses
If there’s a question that you’re struggling with, move on and answer a question that you do know the answer to.

You can always go back towards the end of the exam and give it your best shot. Don’t waste valuable time procrastinating over questions you’re struggling with because you’ll only lower your confidence, use up precious brainpower and put yourself in a distinct disadvantage.