Exams indeed present a real test – but that's exactly what they're supposed to do. We've all been there – so if you or your kids have got examinations coming up, here's what we recommend. 

Get a tutor early on

Even if you don't think it's needed, a tutor is a much better option than facing the exam alone with just some notes for guidance. Private tutorials will focus concentration, make the learning interesting and provide skills that help to firm up knowledge and hone exam technique. One of the greatest benefits is that in getting to know their pupil, the tutor can explain things in a way that makes sense. Plus there's opportunity to ask more questions and move at a pace that is appropriate. The tutor may even offer friendly emotional guidance, too.

Be organised

It helps if a student can identify areas that require attention, as well as goals to aim for. If one subject's exam takes place a fortnight after the others, it pays to be aware that there'll be time to dedicate to it later, and it might therefore be best to concentrate on what comes before, right now. 

Break it down to avoid being overwhelmed

Some students will have been undertaking examinations for what seems like an age. It's helpful to keep focused and fresh by carving out specific periods of time (a single hour for example) for particular subjects, and taking regular breaks of five to ten minutes. Putting the mobile phone in a different room will reduce the chance of getting distracted as well. 

Improve your lifestyle

Research a 'brain food' diet that helps with concentration – eat nuts, dried fruit, and fish. Exercise regularly – a mid-afternoon workout can revive the senses when we're flagging, plus assist in relaxation and positive thinking. Going to bed on time or a little earlier is always sensible. For school or uni students, it's all great preparation for the world of work, too.

Practise and make mistakes

It's actually best to be completely aware of our weak spots when studying, so best to avoid 'cheating' in online tests, in order to truly identify which areas of knowledge need the most work. This makes for more efficient revision, and is therefore more productive in the long term. Where possible, getting hold of real test papers and completing them under exam conditions will boost confidence. "Train hard, fight easy", as they say in the Royal Marines.

Enjoy life

Arranging some fun in the evenings and any other time off, gives a student something to look forward to. It's obviously best to avoid being too harsh on oneself during revision periods, or indeed 'cramming' if at all possible. A reward for hitting a revision goal is much preferred – but only if the goal has actually been met, thereby setting up a cycle of 'task and reward' that will help to make study more enjoyable.

Relax and stay positive

We're totally sympathetic, but fretting won't help. Anyone studying needs a clear head to absorb knowledge and go into the exam itself on top form. If stress is a problem, it's good to talk to people who can listen and offer support. Often, sharing feelings is a help in itself pre-examination, and it can be a pleasant surprise to discover just how pleased people are to help during this important time. Good luck!


For further information on how to make the most of your revision schedules, with one-to-one tutoring and guidance, why not have a chat with our education specialists at: education@quintessentially.com or on +44 (0) 20 3073 6839