When it comes to exams, we like to think of our brains like our muscles when we exercise.
Most of us don’t launch into exercise like an Olympic marathon runner.
We take a bit of time to warm up, to override the niggly pains, to come into our stride.
Sitting an exam is exactly the same.
It’s our experience that for the first half an hour or so of an exam, your brain is just warming up. It’s only jogging – not quite ready to get into a full sprint.
At the beginning stage of their exam your teen could squander precious minutes pondering a hard question. Perhaps if they left that question and came back to it later once their brain was in ‘exam-mode’ they’d be able to answer much more quickly, and to a much higher standard.
Doing well in an exam is not necessarily about answering every question.
It’s about getting the most marks you can possibly get.
Exams are designed to have some easy, some medium, and some really hard questions. They’re certainly not designed for every student to get an A+.
Your teen shouldn’t answer their exam from front to back
If your teen sits there racking their brains over a question they’re not quite sure about, that’s time they won’t get back to use on questions left they could easily answer.
The last thing you want your teen to do is run out of time in an exam having not answered a whole bunch of easy questions because they spent 10 minutes desperately trying to remember the answer to a harder question. In that same time, they could have answered 10 easier questions.
So it’s our very strong recommendation that they skip the hard/long questions and answer all of the exams easy questions first.
We almost always use this strategy in our own exams
First we go through our exam papers and pick out the easy questions to get our brains into exam-mode.
Then by the last half of an exam our brains would be fired up. Nothing could have distracted us. During this time the answers to the harder questions that were only skimmed over will be ticking over in the back of your head.
This is when you go back to the harder questions.
It’s an amazing phenomenon. It’s incredible how much clearer you can think once you’ve gotten into the swing of an exam, as opposed to at the beginning when you’re overwhelmed by the task ahead.
Too any students don’t get the grades they deserve because they don’t use their time well in exams, not because they didn’t stuff hard enough.
Don’t let this happen to your teen.
Make sure they answer the easy questions first, and come back to the hard ones once they’re warmed up.