My Top Tips for Exam Success

My Top Tips for Exam Success:

Exams can be stressful. As a GCSE examiner for Edexcel, I have read thousands of students’ answers. I often think that by following a few simple guidelines, a candidate could have improved their grade. I want all the students at Net School to do the best they can. These are my top tips:

1) Prepare early

The most important thing you can do is structure and focus your revision. Start early. As you go through your course, get into the habit of keeping your notes up to date and organised. Two months before the exam, draw up a revision timetable – including time to do practice papers - and stick to it. Reward yourself every week you hit your target. Try to give yourself a day off before the exam itself and make sure you get a good night’s sleep – much more productive than last minute cramming!

2) Work out your timing

When you do practice papers, try to work out how long has been allocated to each mark, then use that to determine how long you spend on a particular question. For example, a 3 hour paper worth 90 marks allows 2 minutes per mark. A 10 mark question should therefore take you no longer than 20 minutes to complete. Also remember that you do not have to tackle the questions in chronological order, so if you are worried about not being able to complete the valuable 20 mark question at the end, then why not do it first?

3) Read the question

This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many students respond to a question on the League of Nations with a discussion on the United Nations, or answer a question asking about the problems Gorbachev faced when he came to power with an exposition on why his ‘solutions’ failed. Before you start to write, read the question again. Is it asking what you thought it was? Then continue to Tip 4…

4) Address the question directly

When faced with a question on a topic that you know inside out, it is easy to just write down everything you know, and hope that the examiner will sift out the right answer. This technique may get you a few marks, but it is not the way to a top grade. To ensure that you are addressing the question, try to answer it in brief in the first sentence. Make the structure of your argument clear, and highlight any other areas of importance that you are going to bring in later. For example:

Q: To what extent was the Treaty of Versailles to blame for the outbreak of war in 1939?

A: The Treaty of Versailles was a crucial reason for the outbreak of war in 1939, as it created a feeling of resentment in Germany and a desire for revenge against those who had inflicted perceived injustices on the country. However, there were also other factors, such as Hitler’s foreign policy and the policy of appeasement which also set Europe on the road to war…

By starting in this way, you have shown the examiner that you have grasped the question, and have given yourself a plan for the rest of the answer that will follow.

5) Read through your work

If you have any time left at the end of the exam, then go back and read through your answers. You may be sure that your work is of an A* standard, but looking back ensures that you have answered everything necessary and that you have checked that your spelling and grammar is as good as it can be.

I hope that you have found these tips helpful.  Good luck!