Ten Tips – Exam Techniques

Tests and exams are a regular part of the school environment. It is important that exams be kept in proportion – they are important, but not the end of the world. Some things can be done to make exams a more valuable, worthwhile and less threatening experience for students.

  1. Have all necessary material with you
    You can’t borrow items such as pens, pencils, rulers or special equipment while in an examination.
  2. Have a relaxing night before your exams
    Have an early night, and try to have a healthy breakfast.
  3. Read the entire paper.
    Where you have choices, decide which ones you plan to answer.
  4. Plan your time.
    Spend some time drafting a plan for the questions you choose to answer.
  5. Jot down ideas as they come to you.
    While you are answering one question, information about another may suddenly occur to you. Jot it down somewhere because when you come to that question perhaps an hour later, you may have forgotten it.
  6. Don’t leave any questions unanswered.
    If you are short of time, use note form. Remember, you can only be marked on the answers you give.
  7. Never leave the room early.
    If you have time at the end, go over your work, add information (eg in the margin). You can’t return if you suddenly remember a fact after you have left.
  8. Do not spend too long on multiple choice questions.
    With multiple choice questions it is best to cover the answers and work out your own before looking at the choices on paper. If you can’t answer the question come back to it later – have a guess.
  9. Never omit an entire question.
    No matter how well you answer other questions, you must leave time for all questions – a perfect answer can still only earn a certain number of marks. If you write nothing, you can’t receive any marks and you have lost all your marks for a particular question. Write something – it may at least give you a few points.
  10. Maintain a stable energy level.
    Eating foods such as chocolate bars before an exam might give you an energy boost to begin with but your blood sugar levels will drop within an hour and your energy will plunge dramatically, making it hard for you to concentrate.

Balancing Commitments

School is more than books and assignments.

It is important to maintain balance. Balancing commitments is especially important to senior high school students. Being able to balance your school commitments with social, recreational and family life is important for a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Key ways for students to achieve this balance include: having a set of priorities and goals; being as positive as you can; having support networks of people you can talk things over with; and being prepared to tackle problems early and work out ways to manage them. There is no perfect way of ‘doing the HSC’. Each student needs to be supported to find their own way of managing their lives at this stage. If things are not going well at school or there are other pressures it is useful to know that there are other pathways to the HSC.

Remember that while you are at school and studying you are gaining life experience as well as building and making a positive contribution to your future life.

Things to remember

  1. Time management
    Planning your time will allow you to study as well as take time off to watch TV, go out with friends and have extra curricular activities such as music and clubs etc.
  2. Planning and discipline
    Select a time for study when you concentrate the best and develop a habit of studying at this time. Some students prefer the early morning, others the afternoon or night. Try to make this study time when there are fewer distractions around you.
  3. Keeping fit
    Exercise and keeping fit are some things that many students worry about as it is time consuming – but don’t put this off because of a lack of time. A fit and healthy lifestyle helps you feel more positive and have more energy. It also helps concentration. Play a sport, get outside for fresh air and exercise and try to do this on a regular basis. Even 10 minutes of fitness activity each day has benefits. And don’t forget, relaxation exercises are also helpful. (your school counsellor could give you more information on these)
  4. Manage your stress
    It’s the rule rather than the exception for student to feel nervous before exams. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Aim to keep your routines as normal as possible during exam periods. On the day before an exam, stick to your revision plan. On the night before, have an early night, so that you give yourself the opportunity to get plenty of sleep and wake up alert.
  5. Learn to say no
    Your friends want to go out on Wednesday but you’re committed to studying for that Economics exam? Or you’re not allowed to go out on weeknights so you get the weekend free? Then, say no. It’s the only way your plans for the rest of the week will stay in place.


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