At Goal Digger, we are used to working with students who are facing exams both at tertiary and secondary level.  It’s stressful, it’s unavoidable and people are often floundering not knowing how to prepare or carry out the exam.  Let us give you some pointers.

First of all, it is important to know your learning style.  If you haven’t worked with us in a career counselling programme or workshop, you might not know yours.  We quite like the Vark testing if you want to spend a few minutes figuring it out.  Finding out your learning style will speed up the process for taking in and retaining information.  Learning. Funny that!

Once you know your learning style, check out this clip:

Now let’s learn a little about cramming:

When studying for exams, treat it like school or a job.  Have a set timetable for study. Make sure you stick to it.  Ensure you follow a healthy body and mind routine.  Eat well, get exercise and study in short bursts. Prolonged study sessions have been proven to be detrimental to information retention.

For some learners, drawing diagrams or coming up with acronyms or songs can help.  It does for people like me, who are more visual learners.  It is also good to try and remember information in three different forms.  For example, reading out loud, writing, drawing (or singing in my case – make sure you do it in your head in your exam!).  Whatever works for you, figure it out and do just that!

Exam Day Freak Out

Before the exam

  • Check the time and place for the exam.
  • Do not cram at the last minute.
  • Put your equipment in a clear plastic bag the night before.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Eat before the exam but not junk food.
  • Avoid people who make you feel nervous.
  • Stay calm and confident. Breathe deeply.
  • Don’t forget your equipment and identification.
  • Be early for the exam.

In the exam

  • Stay calm. Relax. Stay focused.
  • Have confidence in yourself.
  • Get an extra piece of paper at the start of the exam.  Review all sections and questions quickly and carefully by allocating the first ten minutes of the exam time to this.  As soon as you are allowed to write, get your extra paper (which has to be handed in at the end) and download any information that is floating around your brain relevant to the questions contained.  Have a plan for your exam, you will feel more in control.
  • Answer the easy questions first. You don’t have to do your exam in order.
  • Do not spend too long on each question. If you have extra time at the end return to the question.
  • Do not use twink, pencil or red pen.
  • Cross out mistakes with a single line.
  • Use diagrams to support your answer. Label clearly.
  • Read questions twice. Circle key terms.
  • Do not bulk up an answer. Keep to the point!
  • Proof read answers. Ask yourself – Have I written a complete answer? Have I answered the question that was asked?
  • Match the length of your answer to the space provided.
  • Watch out for plurals in questions. For example, ‘Name features of graphs’ means that you are required to write at least two features.
  • If you are running out of time, at the least write some notes on each question answer in your answer booklet, you might still get one or two marks.  Create a heading at least and write an introduction, if it is an essay).
  • Label extra pages clearly and attach them to your exam booklet.

After the exam

Phew, you made it! Reward yourself, but ensure you are prepared for the next one.

Best of luck, from all of us here at Goal Digger!