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Exam Revision Tips and Techniques

There are many ways of managing the stress of an exam, not all of these will work for you but some of these might! Remember, you are not the only one sitting the exam, your teachers and parents will have been through exactly the same thing!


It's an exam, it's not the end of the world. By now you should have made your UCAS choices, and you should have a 'Plan B' should your exam results not go the way you want. If you don't have a 'Plan B' again, don't worry - there is always 'Clearing' so you will get to go to a University, if that is your wish. It just might not be to the University that you want to. Remember, if everyone feels like the exam is a complete swine, the grade boundaries will be lowered!


get a good, reliable watch. Some exams are now not allowing watches in exams as they are smart watches, but if your exam allows a good old fashioned watch, take it in with you, take it off and fold it on your desk in front of you. This will allow you to keep a close eye on the time without having to raise your head and look around.


Technically, this is the same as the first point, except that it's such a big one, it's worth mentioning twice.


One of the worst things you can do is look around and see what people are writing. You might see someone who seems to be writing lots, and asking for more paper, and you've only written three words. Your three words might be right, and the other people are just writing drivel! Stay focused on your own work!


You should have seen plenty of past papers by now, you should have a rough idea of how to break up your time in a 3 hour exam try and work out when you would like to be finished by and plan some time to check your work. Make sure you try and finish all questions with 15 minutes to spare, this will give you time to go back and either check your work, or try to answer the questions that you missed.


Take each question as it comes on it's own merits. If you can't do the question, put a mark by it, and move on to the next one. Don't try and rack your brains, you'll just start to panic. Don't worry, just move to the first question you know you can get right


If you can't do that first question, don't worry. An exam is a stressful time, just go through the paper until you come to the first question that you know you can answer. Don't focus on the others. Find that topic you are confident in and knock it out of the park. This will get your brain going, bring all your efforts at revision in to play and get you into the rhythm of the exam. Then go back to each question you've missed and tackle each one in turn, you'll find that your memory recall is working better now.


Always have a backup, the last thing you want is for something silly to happen, like your pen runs out!


If your exam was like a sporting match, or a concert, then practice is over and it's Showtime! You should have done all the training and practice beforehand as revision, and practicing past papers. If you haven't then no amount of revision tips will help you. Start your revision early, start with the material you haven't looked at since the September of your first year. You have two years of material to become familiar with again, so there's no point in going over the recent stuff. You should start your revision process around Easter, by digging out the stuff you did in your first year and working out what you are happy with and what you need extra help with.


If you are stuck on a question, and it comes to the end of the exam, put something down on paper. Anything will do. Especially on multiple choice! If you write nothing, you get nothing. But if you put something down on paper, you have a 50:50 chance - it'll either be right, or it'll be wrong! You have nothing to lose at this stage!


Try not to write pages and pages of drivel. Be concise where you can. If you are putting down your working out and you don't want your examiner to look at it, draw a clear line through it. Remember, everything you put down on your answer paper will be marked, so if something is wrong, you need to tell your examiner that they need to ignore it.


If you have a three mark question, you know that they are looking for three facts. If you only put two down, you know that you don't have enough. If is is a maths question, and four marks are awarded, you can bet you have three marks for showing your working out and one mark for the right answer! You won't get all four marks if you do your working out on a piece of paper and just submit the final answer!


If a question says 'state' or 'define' then you know it's a simple, one or two mark factual question. Be guided by the mark scheme to know how many facts you need to put down. If the question says 'explain' and it is a two mark question, you will get one mark for stating 'the thing' and one mark for giving an example of 'the thing'. For example, you might be asked 'explain what is meant by a Constant Variable' your answer might be 'A Constant variable is a variable whose value does not change for the lifetime of the program. For example the variable TOP_SPEED for a car will never change while the program is running'. If the questions says 'discuss' then usually you will need to state 'the thing', state an advantage of 'the thing', a disadvantage of 'the thing' and then come up with a final sentence concluding why you think it is good or bad. Questions with the word 'discuss' are usually nasty, so check with your teacher and make sure you have looked at past paper questions and approved mark scheme answers so you know what your exam board is expecting.


Try and write legibly. Your examiner will have been given 200 papers to mark, and they have to mark all of those in a very short space of time, on top of all of their other teaching work. If they have a paper where it's almost impossible to read the answer, they will not spend a lot of time trying to decipher your handwriting and they will just mark you down. Think about what you are going to write before you write it and get your examiner on your side!

Finally, Its not the end of the world!

A level exams are all about 'What's Next'. I promise you, on your CV, no-one is going to care about your A levels, they will care about which University you went to, what degree you got, what level of degree you got and what did you do at University to be a better candidate at interview (did you get involved, did you join a club or society, or did you spend all your time with your friends at the Union bar!)

There are many universities offering places at clearing, so if you don't do well you will always have a Backup Plan. Remember, whether you go to Oxford, Cambridge, The Russell Group, or a University at the Back End of Nowhere, you will still be paying upwards of £9000 pounds in fees, so its in your interest to get the best grades now!


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