Already thinking about your exams?

So, the first term is out of the way and now you are thinking about your exams!

Some might say that it is way to early but perhaps now is just about the ideal time to start thinking about what you need to do to be better prepared.

As Benjamin Franklin said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

I'm not suggesting you hit the books every night and go over everything until you are solving complex equations in your dreams, but you can do a little bit of work now to help you later.

Now is the opportune time to identify any weaker areas of your subject so that you have plenty of time to seek advice and improve. Most of you will still be learning content and may not be revising, however, if you wait until a few weeks before your exams, you can bet that your teacher will be inundated with requests to go over certain topics and may not be able to give you the time you might need. You are also less likely to be able to dedicate the time to each area yourself as there are likely to be several different areas and subjects.

The way in which you identify your weaker areas may vary from student to student. Older students may be perceptive enough to go through their curriculum objectives and know which ones they feel less confident with. For others, it may be better to attempt a practice paper (this could also be past papers - if there are any for your current subject). Remember to check that the paper you choose covers the correct curriculum, as there are a number of subjects starting new exam specifications this year. There are also several companies who produce practise papers in packs but it is also worth noting that many of the exam boards also produce practise papers that you can download for free.

Whilst this is not the actual test, still be prepared so that you get a better picture of your strengths and weaknesses - and are less likely to make excuses for yourself leading to poorer revision. Make sure that you have enough time to complete the paper and have all of the materials needed. Time the test and make a note of where you finish in the time allotted - in the first instance, this gives you an idea of your overall time management. Don't forget to attempt the rest of the questions though as the idea is to uncover which areas need the most work. 

When marking the work, you should note which specific area of your subject the question relates to. Also take into consideration the number of times this area comes up and the number of times you correctly solved the question. If an area is covered in five questions and you answer four of them correctly, this clearly needs less revision than an area where you get most or all of the questions incorrect. Don't forget to check that the test has covered all areas of your subject - it is often impossible for all areas to be covered in one test alone and so you may need to complete a series of tests to get a good overall picture. 

With this information, you should be able to design an effective revision plan: areas that you need to seek further help with, areas that are yet to be covered - check with your course provider or teacher when this will be, and which areas you are able to revise comfortably at home. 

As you are likely to have more than one subject to study and revise for, it is a good idea to do this type of exercise earlier rather than later so that you don't have any nasty shocks too close to your actual exams.

Once you know the areas you need to work on, there are a number of ways to practise including apps (watch out for the quality of these though as some are not 100% accurate), revision websites that supply explanations and further questions or workbooks that you can purchase from many book stores.

Good luck, keep calm and be prepared!

P.S. Please feel free to comment and share your favourite revision techniques or websites for others to use.

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