Tips to prepare for upcoming exams

As the time to sit our exams gets closer and closer, we’re constantly asking ourselves ‘have we prepared enough?’ and ‘Am i really ready for this?’. The subject of English is one of the toughest to revise for. From having to memorise what feels like a hundred different quotes for literature and the many literary techniques and structural features for language. It is undoubtedly stressful.

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Having completed both my GCSE exams and A Levels, i would like to share a few tips helped me. Remember, it’s not all about working hard. It’s about working smart!

  • ‘Understand don’t memorise’ – that is one of the greatest pieces of advice i ever received. For me, it was all about filling my head with all the information i felt i needed to know so that when it came to sitting the exam, I had it all. I was far from right. Without understanding, i struggled to make links to different themes and ended up waffling. Sound familiar?

Recommended tip: make mindmaps to link quotes together and link them to different characters and themes. Analyse the quotes by asking yourself; are there deeper meanings behind this? Why did the writer choose that particular technique or choice of wording? Do specific words have significance?

  • Colour, colour, colour – yes, the repetition was intended for emphasis! Colour coding your study notes is a fantastic way of making links and highlighting key bits of information. Use specific colours for heading such as ‘titles’ ‘definitions’ ‘names’ ‘examples’. Studies show writing in colour can help one to retain 50-80% more information because 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. And an added bonus, your notes will look pretty!

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Recommended tip: use bright colours like red, orange, green, purple and blue. Red is attention grabbing, suggesting that something is important and needs attention. Green helps with concentration and balances the mind, whilst blue boosts creative thinking. Orange has been found to keep the mind focused and purple allows one to express ideas more easily.

  • Be wary of time management – when writing essays, timing can be a huge issue. If you’re an individual who tends to waffle, you may find yourself running out of time and not having enough left for questions near the end. When doing past papers or answering possible exam questions, ensure you only give yourself the same amount of time you will have in the real exam. If keeping a phone near you to do this is a possible distraction, tell your siblings or parents to inform you when time is up. But remember; don’t be too cautious that you rush. Use the recommended timings to read, plan and write.

Recommended tip: if you want to continue writing when doing past exam questions, use a different coloured pen so you know it was written after your time had finished.

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