BBC Interview about tips for exam technique

Our head of centre, Marcelle was recently interviewed on BBC radio discussing exam techniques and tips for revision.

Listen to the interview here:

Here are some of the key points covered in the interview:

Stick with strategies that work

If you have found a method of revising that helps you remember information and apply it to exam questions, continue to use this strategy. While using a variety of revision techniques can help improve your understanding of certain topics, if you find a study routine that works well for you, make sure you stick with it. Avoid introducing new study techniques at the last minute as this could confuse you.

Use past papers to enhance revision

Sometimes you might begin your exam season with optimism, but if you’re finding your exams more difficult than you thought you would, there are a few things you can do to enhance your revision.

One of the best things you can do is to use practice papers for the exams you are sitting. You can usually access past papers for A-Levels or other qualifications. These allow you to practice answering similar questions to the ones that might be in your exam. The benefit of this is that you begin to understand which information you need to include in your answer in order to gain marks and improve your grades.

What to avoid when revising

Some key things we advise against doing when revising include:

  • Cramming revision for topics at the last minute
  • Revising in bed or somewhere with lots of distractions
  • Trying to write down every detail or piece of information on a topic
  • Studying for too long without taking breaks

It’s important to take breaks

While it might seem like you need to revise for all hours of the day to make sure you know everything, this can actually have a detrimental effect. Taking breaks is important as it allows your brain to absorb and retain all the information you have taken in, and helps you to remember it when it matters.

When taking breaks from revision, it’s a good idea to move away from your desk, go outside or do a completely different activity so your mind can rest and separate itself from the revision. It can also help to reward yourself with something you enjoy when you’ve finished a period of revision.

Making revision fun

Here are some tips for making revision fun so you can stay engaged and make studying feel less like a chore:

  • Play your favourite music in the background while you study, but make sure it’s not too loud.
  • Colour code your notes with bright colours and add stickers or symbols for priority topics.
  • Keep your desk organised so it’s a nice place to spend time; a messy desk can make your mind feel disorganised as well.
  • Set yourself small goals to achieve so you can tick them off rather than concentrating on the whole topic at once.
  • Use quizzes and flashcards to help you take in information in smaller chunks that are easier to understand.

Coping with exam nerves

It’s normal to experience nerves when it comes to exams as you want to do your best. Something to bear in mind is not being afraid to fail. The aim of an exam is to understand which information you have retained and understood during your course. Worrying causes us to put extra pressure on ourselves and this in turn can affect our performance. The best thing to do is trust that you have done your best, and there are always alternative options if you don’t get the results you were hoping for.