How to Study for and Pass Secondary School Exams – Top Five tips for Students and Parents

Exams in 5 Weeks – is it too late?

The countdown has begun to the 2012 Scottish Secondary Exams which commence on Wednesday 25th April.  This is a time when students and parents alike start to worry and panic can set in if the child does not feel they are fully prepared.  If this is the case, then now is the time to take action.  The student probably knows more about the curriculum than they think but perhaps the actual exam process itself is causing worry.  Students may be re-reading subject notes but their study technique is not effective.  Do they feel they have too many subjects and not enough time to prepare?  Are they stressed, anxious or distracted?

Although teenagers often do not want interference from their parents, if there are concerns perhaps it is time to sit down and ask if you can help but only in a way that does not cause additional pressure.  Offer practical advice and support.  Perhaps you can offer to mark past papers under exam situations?  If you have a busy, loud household try to ensure that study time is quiet and without distraction.  Encourage your child and praise their efforts – a teenager will not learn any more if they are under pressure from parents and sulking.  Encourage them to do the best they possibly can and as long as they put in the effort, you will be proud of them.

5 Weeks to Go to Exams- The countdown has begun!

Time is tight and students should have already been preparing but here are our top tips to help students get on track and be as prepared as they can be:

1.    Find out the dates for each exam and note them in either a computerised or written diary

2.    Create a timetable for studying.  Work around extra curricular activities and choose a maximum of two hourly slots to dedicate to studying a particular subject when distractions are at a minimum

  • Do not study for more than 2-3 hours at a time and ensure you take regular snack breaks
  • Follow the timetable religiously and make sure your family also knows your timetable and you are not to be disturbed
  • Turn off mobile phones and other distractions like loud music

3.    Be organised – prepare proper notes.  In class, students will probably by now be revisiting the Curriculum. It is important to take proper notes in class:

  • Highlight any points when the teacher says “this is important”!
  • Highlight any areas you feel you have a weakness or don’t fully understand – When home make sure you read about this and fill in the blanks
  • If your notes are messy and incomplete, when you get home, rewrite them as bullet points in your own words (don’t just copy) and do some further research online or from books to gain as much information as possible.

4.     Past Papers

  • Obtain past exam papers for the last 5 years and sit one now but ensure you are uninterrupted and that timescale is adhered to.  Do not refer to notes and cheat.  Have someone mark your score realistically using the score guidelines
  • If there are questions that you do not perform well in, make sure you concentrate on these areas for next study practice and learn it.
  • Try another test paper and repeat the same
  • Practice makes perfect – Study the results and try to notice a pattern of what examiners are looking for.
  • Getting used to what examiners are looking for in each subject will help you

5.   The Week of Exams

  • Exams may take place over the course of a few weeks – Once you have sat an exam do not dwell upon it and move on to the next.  If you think you have failed or done badly, there is nothing you can now do but prepare for the next.  Most students think they have done badly but can sometimes be very pleasantly surprised
  • Ensure you eat well and get plenty of sleep – there’s no point in worrying now – you can only do your best
  • Do not listen to stories from fellow students.  It does not matter how they perform – only how you do.  They do not know how prepared you are and deep down they will be as uptight as you, even if they choose not to show it.

After the Exams

After the exams, take some time out for yourself and enjoy the summer.  Results will come and for now there is nothing you can do so relax.  When the big day comes, if you have received the results you wanted then a huge congratulations is deserved.  If your results are disappointing then it is not the end of the world.  You have time and options to get there.  Next year you should be more prepared.  My colleague has written a very good blog on this subject on how to deal with disappointing exam results. and we will follow up on this soon with our own tips.

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2 comments on “How to Study for and Pass Secondary School Exams – Top Five tips for Students and Parents

  1. I dont have a good method of studying but after reading this blog i think it can help me improve my grades and pass at the end of each term

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