The biggest piece of advice we can offer is start early. Include exam study as part of your regular study schedule.
Find out as much as you can about what the exam will involve. Think about content and question style. Know what you can take into the exam. Get familiar with those materials.
If you’re not sure, ask! Your instructor will help you as much as you can, and other students can provide valuable tips and information as well.
Review concepts regularly. Going over concepts in small, weekly segments is much easier to manage than trying to force yourself to remember everything in the few days before your exam.
Vary your revision practices. The more different ways you can practice/review a concept, the better. Draw diagrams, write out notes, create and answer your own questions, talk to others – whatever you can think of!
Repetition is one of the best ways to commit things to memory – give yourself enough time to go over things several times before the exam.
Concentrate on understanding rather than memorising concepts. Some things can be rote learnt. Others will require more in-depth comprehension. Know which is which for your exam and study appropriately.
Find a study buddy to help keep you on track. You can also explain things to each other to check your understanding.
Make use of all the resources available to you. Read your textbooks, FTMs, etc more than once.
Practice, practice, and more practice. Do all the practice exams and questions you can find. Check your answers to see where you are going wrong and review those concepts again before having another attempt.
Ask questions and seek help early. If you’re really struggling to understand a concept, speak to your instructor.
As your exam date approaches, do your best to maintain your normal self-care routine while ramping-up your study. Maintain your regular diet, exercise, and sleep patterns. Changing your lifestyle will only increase stress.
Before the exam:
- Make sure you get enough sleep.
- Eat something. Avoid the sugar-high-and-crash of chocolate bars and candy. Choose something that will give you the energy you need to concentrate while you’re in the exam.
- Stay hydrated – your brain is mostly water. It’ll work better if you’ve had enough to drink.
- Pack your back the night before so you can double check you have everything as many times as you need to.
- Check that you know where you’re going and when to be there. Plan to leave yourself plenty of time to get there in case any unexpected delays come up on the way.
During the exam:
- Stay calm.
- Read the question carefully. Understand what it is asking you.
- Move through and answer as many questions as you can as quickly as you can. You can return to anything you’re unsure of later.
- Don’t spend too long on one question if you’re struggling. Make a note to come back to it if you have time.
- Try to manage your time so that you have some at the end to review your answers. This is where you might pick up on mistakes in interpreting the question.
- Don’t overthink it – if you’re not sure on the answer, eliminate obviously wrong options and then just choose what seems best to you.
- If you’re unsure about changing your answer, don’t. Chances are your first instinct was right.
- Answer every question. You might be wrong, but you definitely can’t get marks for a blank answer.
After the exam:
- Be proud of yourself – whether you pass or fail, getting through an exam is an accomplishment in itself.
- Celebrate your pass. You can assess what you need to work on tomorrow.
- If you didn’t pass, take a moment to think about why. Were you underprepared? Did you just panic in the moment and forget everything? This is important for working out what you will do differently next time around. Then move on.
Remember: nerves are normal! Do what you can to manage them. Be prepared and practice breathing techniques. Seek professional help if you need it.