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  • Writer's pictureDwaine Praught

15 exam tips

Remove the stress for improved performance

With high school exams about to kick into high gear we release our last minute guide to readying yourself to write an exam. The key is to put yourself in the right frame of mind to perform at your best.

15 Exam Tips to Maximize Performance

1) Practice personal affirmation before you go in, remember you don’t need to be perfect. Don’t think about what you don’t know, there is no value in that. Remind yourself of all that you do know – it will stick with you and block out the negative thoughts.

2) Rest well the night before. Cramming until the early morning hours will only take away from your ability to think at the most critical time, during the exam.

3) Eat a healthy meal before you write the exam. Not only will the food provide you with much needed energy, it will prevent distractions from hunger pangs or thoughts of food during the exam.

4) Avoid caffeine and high volumes of sugar. Do not intake anything that is likely to cause you to fidget or increase nervous energy. Choose your inputs with the idea of remaining calm.

5) If permitted, bring water and chewing gum. The water will keep you hydrated and the gum can serve as a means of stress reduction, enabling you to release the stress through chewing (just be sure to be cognitive of the volume at which you chew).

6) Choose an appropriate seat. If you are easily disrupted choose a spot away from high traffic areas and from other students that may cause you to lose concentration on your paper.

7) Have a watch or direct visibility to a clock in the exam room. Don’t allow yourself to be surprised by the time warnings that inevitably come as the exam progresses. Alarm at a ticking clock will cause increased hormone activity in the body reducing the ability to think straight.

8) Ignore the other students in the room. Some will leave early, others will scribble and scribble through hordes of paper. They are not you, they do not know what you know – focus on your own paper and write the best answers you can.

9) Read the exam instructions fully, do not assume anything.

10) Read each question slowly. Remember to breathe.

11) Prioritize the questions - answer what you know first. Answer the highest value questions next. Do not invest your time in questions you are unsure of until you have first secured the marks on those questions you are confident in.

12) For multiple choice questions, if you cannot select the correct answer, eliminate the wrong answers and select from the options remaining.

13) For essay type questions, outline your answers on scratch paper before you begin writing (organize your thoughts), have a point and manage your time.

14) Should panic set in – stop and breathe, remind yourself you will be okay (you are not dying). Check your thinking and refocus. Move to an easier part of the exam before returning to anything requiring heavy thinking – give yourself some time to settle down before using your logical brain.

15) Double check your work. Should you find you have time to spare, do not just up and leave. Use the time to review your answers and add additional information where necessary.

Good luck all!

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