Inevitably, there will be many teens freaking out right now because they know they’re not prepared for their upcoming exams.
If this is you or your teen, now more than ever is the time to get SMART about how you’re using your time. Because time, as you will be all too aware, is now very much of the essence.
You don’t have time for us to ramble on, so let’s get on with our 5 must do’s to NOT FAIL your exams when, let’s be honest and face the music, you haven’t done enough study:
1. Focus ONLY on the key topics
You do not have time to study nice-to-know details. The majority of the marks up for grabs in an exam come from the MAIN TOPICS of a subject. It’s up to you to understand the FUNDAMENTALS of a topic; the crux of the matter; the main point — and to show the examiner that you understand it.
You have to bake a cake before there is any point in decorating it beautifully. And in this instance, you need to bake your cake, so to speak…
Okay maybe not the best metaphor, but I think you get it — aim to understand the most important parts of the subject. Because at this point, with not enough time to study everything, you need to pass, and to do so you need to know the fundamentals, not extraneous details.
(More on the essential elements of being prepared for exams here…)
2. At least have a look at a past exam
Past exams are absolute gold when it comes to exam study. Short of being psychic and knowing what your exam questions are actually going to be, looking at past years’ exams is the next best thing.
Past exams show you what type of questions are likely to come up, what the format of the exam is, how many questions you’re likely to get asked, how the questions are written — I mean — you really are nuts not to look at a past exam before the real thing.
This is true even if you’re under-prepared. You might feel like you don’t have time to do this, but let me assure you, being forewarned about what the actual exam is going to be like is a much better use of your time than studying that extra sub-topic.
Try your best to actually attempt a past exam in the same amount of time you will have in the real exam, but at the very least, make sure you flick through some past exams to get a feel of what the real thing is going to be like.
3. Don’t pull all-nighters
You will have heard old fogies say don’t stay up all night! before! In this case you should listen to them! Our brains need sleep to perform at their best, and if you’re under-prepared, you want (and need) your brain to be performing at its best!
Stick to your Exam Study Timetable during the day and evening, and at a reasonable time (I’d say well before midnight), give yourself a break and go watch something good on Netflix. You’ll only undo all the hard work you’re now doing if you try and push through like a zombie.
4. Don’t waste time on pretty stuff
It’s nice when study notes look nice. It’s nice when our desk looks tidy. It’s nice when we have time to make flash cards.
At this moment, you do not have the luxury of nice and pretty things.
Like we’ve said above, you need to get on with the crux of your subjects. This doesn’t mean that you should be rushing — you should still be working hard to really understand what you’re studying (otherwise what’s the point?!). But it does mean you don’t have time to do the sorts of study tasks that one might do when they have lots of time to prepare.
5. Ask for help when you need it
You know who understands what you need to know for your exam better than anyone else? Two people — your classmates and your teacher.
This is really good news for you, because it means that when you come across something you’re struggling to understand, you have lots of people you can turn to for explanation.
Too many students under-utilize their teachers, who most of the time are happy to dish out vital bits of information about the upcoming exam. And when it comes to your classmates, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’re helping them too! This is because explaining something to someone is one of the best ways to make sure that you understand something yourself. (We’ve discussed the power of talking things through before here.)
Overall — don’t waste your precious time trying to figure difficult things out on your own, because you don’t have to.
This is the mission you are now embarking on. You have a hill to climb ahead of you, but you can do it! You just need to use the right foot holds (ie the tips above) and you’ll make it.
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