Updated 26 November 2015

Golden tips on how to master your exams

Educational psychologist Dorrithé Benadé shares some useful tips and a checklist with Health24 on how learners and students can achieve exam success.

Examinations can cause major anxiety and stress, and the best way of coping with the situation is to make sure you're well prepared before you put pen to paper.

Those studying for exams often pull all-nighters trying to cram in as much information as possible. This can however be counterproductive, and getting plenty of sleep, eating well, getting enough exercise and having a good study strategy can make it easier to achieve exam success.

Educational psychologist Dorrithé Benadé shared some tips with Health24.

Preparing for the exam:
• Maintain a revision mentality throughout year. Make clear, visual and colourful notes. Leave space to add new information. Go over your work at regular intervals.
• Start preparing as early as possible and use your time carefully. Draw up a revision time table and priority organiser.
• Keep a positive mindset and attitude by concentrating on positive self-talk.
• Work with friends who have the same goals.
• Stay healthy by getting enough sleep, make time to relax and take plenty of breaks. Drink plenty of water. Incorporate physical activity and exercise so that you can work off excess adrenaline.
• Practice relaxation and breathing techniques to help you stay calm. 
• Use exam papers from previous years. Check which questions come up frequently. Time yourself writing some of the papers to build writing speed and for general practice. Discuss questions with others. Plan answers by considering e.g. what unnecessary details can be left out of exam answers.
• Avoid people who make you feel unsure of yourself – those who are super-confident and those who panic.

The night before:
• Check exam details.
• Put out what you will need: e.g. pens, ruler, water, snacks.
• Get enough sleep!

The day of the exam:
• Eat well before the exam to keep up your stamina: slow-release carbohydrates and a good protein.
• Make time to do a relaxation exercise; listen to relaxing music if it helps.
• Provide plenty of time to travel to your exam venue.

During the exam:
• Orientate yourself.
• Cultivate a positive, calm, focused state of mind.
• Check that you have the right exam paper (mistakes can happen).
• Read the instructions slowly, at least twice.
• Use relaxation and breathing techniques.

The following table can be used to assess your chance of exam success:

exam stress,examinations


How to make exams less painful

What to eat during exams

You can beat exam blues




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