This article is contributed by Teo Lay Leng, author, educator, and the co-founder of Ignium Academy.
Preparation is vital for success in examinations. How we go about preparing for exams requires skills and practice.
Some of these tips may sound like conventional wisdom, and relate to the importance of looking after ourselves. Others are pertaining to how we go about studying. Both aspects are critical and will help us study and perform better.
Tips For Looking After Ourselves
1. Get enough sleep
Sacrificing sleep for late night cramming is never a good habit to keep. Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep every day, and especially on the night before your exams.
2. Eat well
Exams are like a mental marathon, in which endurance is critical. Hence, the right kind of food and drink can energise your system, improve your alertness, and sustain you through the long exam hours.
Follow these simple tips to eat your way to success:
Avoid skipping meals, particularly breakfast!
Eat healthy meals, avoid all junk food.
Snack smart, go for fresh fruits, dried fruits, yogurt, or nuts.
Stay hydrated, go for 1.5L to 2.0L of fluid per day.
3. Get enough exercise
A healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand. Take care of your body during exams by exercising regularly. Exercise helps to oxygenate the brain and release tension, helping one to stay calm, mentally relax, and study more efficiently.
Tips for Studying for Exams
1. Give yourself sufficient time to study
Don’t leave everything till the last minute — cramming is unhealthy! Manage your time and set up a timetable for your studies. Then organise your studies accordingly.
2. Organise your study area
Ensure you have enough space to spread out your textbooks and notes. Get rid of all distractions, especially your mobile phone, tablet, and computer.
3. Use graphic organisers
Visual aids are really useful when revising. Challenge yourself to create flash cards and mind maps for each topic to organise the concepts you have learnt.
4. Practise using old exam papers
One of the most effective ways to prepare for exams is to practise on past-year papers. This helps you to get used to the format of the exam paper, and — if you time yourself — can also be good practice for making sure you spend the right amount of time on each section.
Bonus Tip 1: Get Information Into Your Long-Term Memory
A key element to succeeding in exams, and turning our effort and intelligence into marks, is effective revision.
Studies have shown that we tend to forget half of our newly learnt knowledge within several days, unless we constantly review the learned materials. Thus, we have to make sure that we get the concepts into our long-term memory before we start to forget what we have learnt. This technique is known as “spacing”.
What it means is that we should revisit the same notes every few days (at increasingly longer intervals) to refresh our learning. Over a period of weeks, this is the most effective way of moving the information into our long-term memory.
Bonus Tip 2: Use This Answering Technique For Science Examinations
As educators, we help students to have a more systematic approach to tackling questions during examinations, so that they can be more confident.
For example, one area that is difficult to score well in is the open-ended section of the PSLE Science paper. We teach our students to use a three-step technique to answer open-ended questions:
S for “Select”
U for “Use experimental results”
E for “Explain”
Let’s illustrate with a sample question:
This is how it can be answered:
Select: Graph K
Use experimental results: The results show that the plants in Pot E have a greater average height than the plants in Pot F.
Explain: The plants in Pot E are overcrowded and will need to compete with each other for sunlight, so they have to grow taller to reach for as much sunlight as possible. The plants in Pot F do not need to compete for sunlight, so they will be shorter.
Would you like to find out more about how children can learn better, especially in today’s digital landscape? The Ignite! Learning Festival on 8 June 2019 features a series of exciting learning events for students and parents. It is proudly brought to you by Ignium Academy and Yen’s Academy, and supported by KooBits Pte Ltd, Miao Academy, Flying Cape Pte Ltd, and Kiasu Parents. Register your interest here.