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Top 3 Exam Prep Strategies for Acing Your External Exams

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Do you typically struggle to prepare for your exams? Find out how you can achieve the best possible ATAR score using our top three exam prep strategies.

With exams coming up, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lost with the amount of content you are expected to cover. And while exam preparation may come easy to some, others may feel a bit uncertain about the best way to approach and prepare for an exam. If this sounds like you, keep on reading to learn more about our top exam prep strategies!

Student with face down on the table frustrated at heavy workload and studying

1) Problem #1: I’m not sure where to start with revision

Before tackling any exam, it’s important to be aware of what you are expected to understand and what could potentially be assessed.

After months of learning in class, scribbling down messy school notes and worksheets and exercises here and there, it’s easy to understand how students can lose track of what questions they need to be able to answer.

The absolute, crucial first thing to do before beginning exam preparation is to make a checklist. While you may not consider yourself a ‘list’ person, having a topic and concept checklist will ensure that you don’t miss any vital information during revision. Don’t forget to check things off as you revise and complete practice questions and identify curriculum points that you find difficult so that you can circle back later.

A common strategy that we typically like to advise our students to employ is to follow the syllabus guides published by the QCAA. For each senior subject, an entire curriculum list is published under “Syllabus” for Units 1-4 outlining what subject matter to focus on.

Please see our blog post “How to Prepare for the 2022 Year 12 External Exams” for more detailed information on how you can do this effectively.

2) Problem #2: I find it difficult to remember so much information and tend to blank out when faced with a tough question

Have you ever faced a question you don’t understand or know how to solve during an exam? To address this common problem, we typically advise our students to practice their ability to identify key words and phrases during exam preparation.

A common situation that we see is when a Mathematical Student is faced with a worded problem that sounds and looks different from what they’ve practiced.

EXAMPLE: Given the function d(t) = 2t^2 + 5, a question asks the student to find the speed at which an object moves at t=3 hours.

Students may misread this problem and immediately use the value ‘3’ for time to sub into the provided equation. However, a key word that students are expected to recognise is the word ‘speed’. ‘Speed’ is synonymous with velocity in most questions and the student is being assessed on whether they know that speed/velocity is represented by the first derivative equation. In simple terms, this means that you would have to do something with the original equation FIRST before attempting to solve the answer and use the value t=3.

Overall, the take home message for tough exam questions is to find a way to break down each problem and ask yourself important focus questions. What am I looking for? What information is provided? What topic of does this fall under in my revision notes? Are there any key terms to be aware of?

With practice, being able to effectively break down exam questions will become easier. Work your way through the past papers using this mindset and you’ll be sure to see better results!

3) Problem #3: I have trouble focusing and feel like I’m not being productive when I’m studying.

With loads of questions to answer and a long list of difficult concepts to understand, it’s extremely important to understand your particular learning style and needs.

Do you learn best with visual aids, music or frequent breaks? Or do you need a change in scenery such as a public library or a new room? More often than not, it’s easy for us to interrupt our “flow state of mind” while studying. What’s a flow state, you ask? It’s that feeling when you are performing an activity and time seems to fly without you constantly checking the time or thinking about something else. Typically, this feeling may be more familiar when you’re really invested in something such as a new TV show. However, the same mindset can be applied to studying – you just need to start off with the right attitude!

The key is finding the best environment and learning style specific to YOU and allow yourself to feel at ease while studying. Some ideas include studying with friends, reading things aloud to yourself, creating your own learning notes, drawing your own pictures of concepts and finding your optimal study time during the day (early morning, afternoon or at night).

Lastly, please keep in mind that in all cases, exercising and getting consistent good sleep is important for you to perform at your best. Don’t overlook the significance of both mental and physical health!

Our Final Notes!

If you require any assistance or learning support for your upcoming exam, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at Cloud Tuition. Book in a free 1-hour lesson and we’ll help you navigate the best exam preparation approach for your specific learning needs and concerns.

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