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it's exam season; tips for how to prepare

Students at asphaleia are currently sitting exams for functional skills English and maths qualifications, as well as ESOL qualifications. Alongside going to college interviews, it can make for quite a stressful couple of months.

This post will provide some pointers for students that can help you approach exam time with confidence and hopefully reduce any stress and anxiety you may be feeling.

A young man is sat at a desk completing an exam paper

Preparation is key, whether it's through making a good revision plan or how you get ready on the exam day itself, being in control of what you need to know and do will reduce your anxiety and help you have the clear mind you need to do your best. Let's start with revision!

revision tips

Revising for exams is important as it will help you to recall information easily under pressure. It will also help you practice the skills you need to answer exam questions in the right way so you will gain maximum marks.

If you're not sure how to revise for your exams at asphaleia, please speak to your tutor.

  1. Make a revision plan - if you can plan your revision over a number of days/weeks then you can cover everything whilst giving yourself plenty of breaks that will help you stay rested and give you time to enjoy yourself - which is motivating.

  2. Create notes that help you learn - use presentation cards, digital notes, or record videos or voice notes for yourself to watch/listen to. The key is to make it work for you and how you learn best.

  3. Pick a good place to revise - some people need background noise to concentrate, others need complete silence. If you're struggling to revise at home, you could always use a local cafe or library. There are lots of good background music options for concentration on Spotify or YouTube if music helps you focus.

  4. Ensure you understand what you're revising - memorising information may not enable you to answer exam questions accurately. If you don't understand something (so that you could explain it to someone else without reading any of your notes), then ask a tutor to explain or find another source of information which might bring clarity.

  5. Look after yourself - give yourself rewards to look forward to (but don't overdo it on the sugar because that might affect your ability to concentrate!) and make sure to keep active and get some fresh air. A quick walk around the block can do wonders if you're finding yourself unable to focus.

  6. Seek help if you need it - if you're getting stressed and anxious in the run up to your exams, it's important to speak to someone. Your tutor, or asphaleia's Mental Health Worker can have a chat with you if you're getting overwhelmed.

A young woman is sat on a library floor taking notes from a book

exam preparation

By taking a few steps to prepare for your exams you can be in with the best chance of getting the results you deserve.

  1. Create a timetable for yourself - record all of your exams down somewhere helpful, write them out and stick it to your wall, put it into your phone calendar and set reminders. This way you can ensure you don't miss any.

  2. Check what you need for each exam and double check you've got it all before you leave the house.

  3. Get a good night's sleep the night before - your brain can't function as well if you've stayed up late so save the late nights for when your exams are done.

  4. Eat a healthy breakfast and drink plenty of water - try not to have too much sugar as you might not be able to concentrate as well. Here are some healthy breakfast options from the NHS Better Health website.

  5. Read through each question carefully so you understand what you have to do - try not to panic and rush to start answering questions, take a breath and read the questions a couple of times so you know what is being asked of you. Then plan how long you will need for each question. If you're not sure about one, move on and come back to it later.

  6. Do a breathing exercise - if you're feeling overwhelmed, the NHS recommends this breathing exercise:

Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold it for 2 counts, and breathe out for 7 counts. Repeating this can help you feel calm.

7. Once the exam is over, try not to dwell on it - if you feel like you need a debrief, please ask to speak to your tutor. Otherwise, try to forget about it and get ready for the next one.

A young woman is walking down the street looking happy with one hand in the air

A final note, try not to be scared of exams but instead have a positive outlook. They are an opportunity to show everything you've learned and the outome of sitting exams is gaining qualifications that will help you onto your next step in your education or career. You've got this!


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