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How to Prepare for an Exam

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Steps

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    The very first thing to address is when to begin. You must start the process with at least a full night’s sleep between you and the exam. Your brain needs time to subconsciously digest everything you’ve put into it, so you cannot try to cram it all in an hour or two before the exam. The best time to start the process is between the morning and early afternoon of the day before your exam, a good 24-36 hours prior to the start of the test.
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    Now read through the entirety of your notes that will be on the exam. If it’s two pages or twenty pages, this is important. It will refresh you on the subject matter and help you remember what you learned. It will also help to make you aware of all the little bits of information and where they are located within your notes so that you know where to find them when you begin to organize the information.
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    Once you have a sense of where everything fits together, you are going to want to start thinking about how you can group all the information into relevant sections. You will also want to think about how you want to group them, be it based on a specific theme, chronology or by concept.
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    When you have identified the major themes, now is the time that you can use Wikipedia or other online sources to fill in the gaps of information that either you missed or which wasn’t explained clearly. You can now use the theme that you discovered to guide your research and help you determine what information is relevant to the test.
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    By now you should have all the information that you will need to study written out and divided by topic onto separate pieces of paper. This is the point at which you can begin creating a narrative from the information and indexing it in a way that it can be easily remembered on the day of the exam.
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    The method if indexing information can be thought of like creating an information tree. Write the major themes of the exam you came up with onto separate piece of paper. Those are the first branches of the tree. Underneath the themes (which you just determined) are sub-themes, which are the more refined groupings of information within each theme. Below the sub-themes write the topics.
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    As you start memorizing, concentrate on one major theme at a time until you know it well. Once you have the theme and all the information below it pretty well memorized, you can move on to the next one until you have committed to memory everything you need to know for the exam.
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    For the first major theme, start at the top and just read through the tree. After you have refreshed yourself with a general understanding of the information, focus on learning "phrases" for each topic that will help you recall what that information was about.
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    After you feel confident that you know every theme, put down your studying and take a break from the subject. The idea is not to try to cram everything at once into your short-term memory. You want to give your brain time to subconsciously internalize all the information you shoveled at it. For this reason it’s important to start the process at least the day before the exam.
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    On the day of the exam, set your alarm at least two hours before the test. An hour and a half before the exam, start running through all the themes and sub-topics in your head. Like always, check your notes if you get stuck. This is when it’s time to cram—try as hard as you can to commit all the tiny details to short-term memory. You’ll want to try to memorize everything you’ve prepared, but 15 minutes before the exam, stop! In the last few minutes you should not be thinking about the exam at all. Relax and take a few deep breaths, if you follow the steps above everything should be fine!

Exam Preparation: Ten Study Tips | Top Universities

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Exam Preparation: Ten Study Tips

1. Give yourself enough time to study

Don't leave it until the last minute. While some students do seem to thrive on last-minute 'cramming', it's widely accepted that for most of us, this is not the best way to approach an exam. Set out a timetable for your study. Write down how many exams you have and the days on which you have to sit them. Then organize your study accordingly. You may want to give some exams more study time than others, so find a balance that you feel comfortable with. 

2. Organize your study space

Make sure you have enough space to spread your textbooks and notes out. Have you got enough light? Is your chair comfortable? Are your computer games out of sight?

Try and get rid of all distractions, and make sure you feel as comfortable and able to focus as possible. For some people, this may mean almost complete silence; for others, background music helps. Some of us need everything completely tidy and organized in order to concentrate, while others thrive in a more cluttered environment. Think about what works for you, and take the time to get it right.

3Use flow charts and diagrams

Visual aids can be really helpful when revising. At the start of a topic, challenge yourself to write down everything you already know about a topic – and then highlight where the gaps lie. Closer to the exam, condense your revision notes into one-page diagrams. Getting your ideas down in this brief format can then help you to quickly recall everything you need to know during the exam.

4. Practice on old exams

One of the most effective ways to prepare for exams is to practice taking past versions. This helps you get used to the format of the questions, and – if you time yourself – can also be good practice for making sure you spend the right amount of time on each section. 

5. Explain your answers to others

Parents and little brothers and sisters don't have to be annoying around exam time! Use them to your advantage. Explain an answer to a question to them. That will help you to get it clear in your head, and also to highlight any areas where you need more work.

6. Organize study groups with friends

Get together with friends for a study session. You may have questions that they have the answers to and vice versa. As long as you make sure you stay focused on the topic for an agreed amount of time, this can be one of the most effective ways to challenge yourself.

7. Take regular breaks

While you may think it's best to study for as many hours as possible, this can actually be counterproductive. If you were training for a marathon, you wouldn't try and run 24 hours a day! Likewise studies have shown that for long-term retention of knowledge, taking regular breaks really helps.

Everyone's different, so develop a study routine that works for you. If you study better in the morning, start early before taking a break at lunchtime. Or if you're more productive at nighttime, take a larger break earlier on so you're ready to settle down come evening.

Try not to feel guilty about being out enjoying the sunshine instead of hunched over your textbooks. Remember Vitamin D is important for a healthy brain!

8. Snack on 'brain food'

Keep away from junk food! You may feel like you deserve a treat, or that you don't have time to cook, but what you eat can really have an impact on energy levels and focus. Keep your body and brain well-fuelled by choosing nutritious foods that have been proven to aid concentration and memory, such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and blueberries. The same applies on exam day – eat a good meal before the test, based on foods that will provide a slow release of energy throughout. Sugar may seem appealing, but it won't help when your energy levels crash an hour or so later.

9. Plan your exam day

Make sure you get everything ready well in advance of the exam – don't leave it to the day before to suddenly realize you don't know the way, or what you're supposed to bring. Check all the rules and requirements, and plan your route and journey time. If possible, do a test run of the trip; if not, write down clear directions.

Work out how long it will take to get there – then add on some extra time. You really don't want to arrive having had to run halfway or feeling frazzled from losing your way. You could also make plans to travel to the exam with friends or classmates, as long as you know they're likely to be punctual! 

10. Drink plenty of water

As a final tip, remember that being well hydrated is essential for your brain to work at its best. Make sure you keep drinking plenty of water throughout your revision, and also on the exam day.

Good luck!

Achieve Your Learning Goals – Study Skills

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Top 5 Study Tips to Achieve your Study Goals

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Study Tip #1

Understand your study topics in your own words: Your teacher or lecturer can explain something to you, you can learn it from a text book, your friends can study with you, even your own notes can explain it to you but all these explanations are of little use if, by the end, you can’t explain what you have learned to yourself. If you don’t understand a study concept that you need to illustrate in an exam to get top exam results, then you won’t be happy with your end exam result. To combat this, get into the habit of explaining whatever it is you are studying, in your own words, so you understand your study notes. The key to help improve your memory is to understand what you’ve learned when you are studying it. So don’t just memorise and tick off the list – make sure you understand your theory.

Study Tip #2

Don’t be afraid to ask study questions: Of course, depending on what you’re studying, it may be quite difficult to get into a position to understand a concept,theory or other information you need to learn. This is where it is invaluable to ask questions of your teachers, lecturers or other educators. Don’t be afraid of asking a ‘stupid’ question – there really is no such thing when it comes to study and learning! Embrace your curiosity, for as William Arthur Ward said: “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” Doing so will allow you to fill in the blanks and better prepare you for exams.

Study Tip #3

Quiz yourself: Once you feel you understand a concept or a topic, it is important to test yourself on it. Try and replicate exam conditions as much as possible: turn your phone off, don’t talk, time yourself etc. You can set yourself a study quiz or practice exam questions and, so long as you approach it with the right mindset, you can get a very good idea of how much you know. You gain a greater insight into where you stand in relation to what you’ve studied so far. Also, it will give you some much need exam preparation, making the actual exam a more comfortable experience. Flashcards are ideal for boosting your memory and help you recall theory, definitions and key dates – these are great for quick study sessions, especially straight before an exam.

Study Tip #4

Get Creative with online study tools: Don’t feel obliged to just sit in front of a book with a highlighter; there are many different ways to study. You should pick whatever works for you. Try using as many study tools and techniques as possible to help you study better and find what works best for you. Perfect examples of such study tools would be online flashcards, mind maps, mnemonics, online study planners, video and audio resources. Login to your ExamTime account now to access your free online study tools; mind maps, flashcards, study quizzes and practice exam answers and bring your study notes with you wherever you are.

Study Tip #5

Set your study goals and create a flexible study plan: In order to achieve exam success you need to know what you want to achieve. That’s why it is extremely important to set your Study Goals now and outline to yourself what you need to do. With your study goals in mind and your end of year exams weeks and months away it makes sense to have a flexible study plan as opposed to a rigid one. The closer you get to your exams the more concrete your study plan should be, but at this point it should be porous. It should be broad enough to allow you to add and change aspects but concise enough so you know you’re covering each subject/topic as best you can at this point.

Tips for speaking tests

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Here are some tips so you know what to expect on the day of the your Speaking test.

Before-exam

Check the date, time and address of your exam, and the address of your exam. Your centre will send you this information. If you have any questions, contact your centre before the day of the test.

Remember to check how long it will take you to travel to the venue.

Get to the exam early. Follow the directions to find the exam room or go to the reception of the building and ask for directions.

things-to-bring

Bring your identification (ID), for example, a passport or national ID card. It must be an original (not a copy) with a photo of you.

during-the-exam

Turn off anything electronic (for example, your mobile phone) when you arrive at the venue.

The centre may take your photo for identification after the exam.

The supervisor will:

• check your ID

• give you your mark sheet. Please do not fold it

• tell you where to wait, and take you to the test room.

Follow the instructions and wait quietly for your test.

While waiting for your test  you can practise your English by talking to the other candidates quietly in the waiting area. If you are doing a Listening test, check that you can hear the test properly. Raise your hand immediately if you cannot hear the recording.

Your supervisor will tell you where to put your bag during the test.

If you have any questions or problems, tell the supervisor immediately.

at-the-end-of-each-paper

Please leave quietly.

You must not speak to other candidates waiting to do their test.

Good luck with your exam!

Exam day tips: Cambridge English PAPER-BASED exams

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Here are some tips so you know what to expect on the day of the exam. These tips are for your written, paper-based exams (not including the Speaking test or Cambridge English: Young Learners exams).

Before-exam

Check the date, time and address of your exam. Your centre will send you this information. If you have any questions, contact your centre before the exam day.

Remember to check how long it will take you to travel to the exam.

Get to the exam early. Follow the directions to find the exam room or go to the reception of the building and ask for directions.

things-to-bring

Bring your identification (ID), for example, a passport or national ID card. It must be an original (not a copy) with a photo of you.

Bring pens and pencils with erasers. Your centre will give you extra pens and pencils if you need them.

Do not bring food or drink to your desk in the exam room (apart from a bottle of water).

You cannot bring your bag, phone, or anything else electronic to your desk in the exam.

during-exam

Your centre will tell you where to put your bags, phones etc. There will be a clock in the exam room. Take your ID out of your bag and put it on your desk.

The centre may take your photo for identification after the exam. 

Listen carefully to the instructions which the invigilator will read out, and make sure you follow them. If you have any questions, need help or want to leave the room, raise your hand to ask for help.

Do not talk to other people, or try to see what they are writing during the exam.

If you are doing a Listening test, check that you can hear the test properly. Raise your hand immediately if you cannot hear the recording.

at-the-end-of-paper

Stop writing immediately when the invigilator tells you to do so.

Give all papers to the invigilator, including question papers, answer sheets, paper for notes, etc.

Stay in your seat until the invigilator tells you to leave the room.

If you have any questions or problems, tell the invigilator immediately.