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Planning for Success

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Assessments don't have to be daunting if you prepare for them, well in advance. We’ve put together the following tips to help you plan your studies ahead of asessment season.

Make a Study Plan

Planning and organising your study is key. Students want to do well and study hard but many cannot because they don’t know how or where to begin. Planning is the first step. Make a plan including the topics you need to study and put it into a timetable. Mix up your subjects to avoid burnout. Take subjects you like, and dislike, into consideration. Make sure you set aside enough time for leisure and other commitments. And most importantly stick to the plan.

Set S.M.A.R.T study goals

Goals give you an endpoint to focus on. This could be a deadline for finishing a chapter, or attaining a certain score on a practise test, or simply studying for a set amount of time. Whatever it is, set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timed) goals and don’t forget to reward yourself when you achieve these goals. Goals are a stepping stone to completing your studies in a structured way.

Choose a suitable location

Find a quiet, comfortable place to study. Make sure you have plenty of light and enough space for your books. Ensure the area is free from distractions like your phone, noise, pets etc… Keep your study and writing materials at hand before you begin your studies.

Keep fit & healthy

Eating a healthy diet is essential to help you focus and concentrate on your studies. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. Also make time for exercise and get outdoors between your studies if you can. It’s also important to get enough sleep at night. If you like studying late into the night or early in the morning, make sure you catch up on the sleep lost.

Take frequent breaks

Last but not the least. Take a break! Taking breaks is very important. Long periods of study without breaks, diminishes your focus and concentration. Breaks will help you pay more attention and helps to bring your mind back to focus on your studies. Breaks can also be a way to reward yourself for attaining a study goal. Such as spending break time on social media, talking to a friend, watching an episode of your favourite programme etc...

We hope, following the steps above will give you a good head start to preparing for your assesments!

Don’t forget to also read about:

Revision tips

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When it comes to revising for assessments, you can really improve your results through good planning and better studying habits.

Follow our TOP TIPS to help you along the way !

  • Make your own revision notes: you'll learn as you write
  • Get virtual: log onto your virtual learning environment to access notes and information to help you
  • Search websites: GCSE Bitesize & You Tube are ideal for revision guides to find practical help and advice
  • Test yourself: avoid subjects you already know
  • Plan - don't cram: list the topics you need to cover then create a revision timetable
  • Take regular breaks: your concentration lapses after a couple of hours
  • Practise: look at past exam papers and see how the questions could be asked and time yourself
  • Highlight key areas: using colours and symbols - visuals help you remember facts
  • Find yourself a space to revise: it will help you concentrate

Here are a few extra things to help you with your revision - click on the links below:

Exam Tips

Revision Planner

Coping with Anxiety

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Assessments can be stressful, but there are steps you can take to control your nerves.

What is stress/anxiety?

Feeling stressed means feeling anxious about something that you’re having difficulty controlling or confronting. It can also affect motivation, making it hard to study for exams.

Stress benefits

A small amount of stress is necessary. It’s part of our natural warning system, making us alert to danger and ready to run from threatening situations. In an assessment situation, a small amount of adrenaline pumping through your body keeps you alert.

Manage your studying

Don’t go mad and lock yourself in with your books 24 hours a day. Two/three hours is the maximum you can study before you stop absorbing what you read, so break up periods of work with periods of relaxation. Reward yourself for your hard work with small treats.

Have a sense of perspective

Do your best, work hard and prepare well. Although you want to do well, if you don’t do as well as you hoped there is always an alternative opportunity.

Be nice to yourself

Self-affirmation works wonders! Tell yourself that you can do it, and psyche yourself up before the day.

Look after yourself

Take regular study breaks and when you’re not studying don’t dwell on your worries. Hobbies and sports can make you feel more relaxed and boost your confidence. Avoid rich or spicy foods – feed your brain with healthy foods and when the assessments are done plan a party!

Make sure you get enough sleep; a light snack or a glass of milk and a warm bath will help you relax before bed.

People Who Can Help You

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If you do start feeling very anxious about your assessments, it’s important to realise that you’re not alone. There are lots of people out there who can help.
Here are just a few:

Family

Your parents or guardians have probably been through testing times, so they’re likely to be only too happy to talk through your concerns.

Friends

Confiding in a friend may be enough to remove some of your fears. After all, most people doing assessments will be feeling the same.

Teachers, tutors and Student Support officers

You can talk to the people responsible for your course about any concerns you have about your assessments.

Support groups

Many groups meet to support each other about matters such as stress and pressure. Find out about them from teachers or lecturers, student liaison officers or your local medical centre.

Doctors

Your doctor should have some sound advice.

On the Day

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Follow these simple tips to ease your nerves on assessment day.

The night before the assessment

The night before can be hard. Don’t start revising completely new areas, it’ll just freak you out. Instead, stick to key points and summaries, rather than big chunks of text. If it feels like nothing’s going in, don’t worry. Whatever revision you do now will pay off later. Finally, get a decent night’s sleep and you’ll perform better.

On assessment day

  • Be sure you know exactly when, where and how long each assessment is.
  • Allow plenty of time for travel and arrive on time – you may not be allowed to sit the assessment if you are later than the specified time.
  • Ensure you have the right equipment for the assessment e.g. pens, ruler, calculator, where appropriate.

Read

  • All the instructions carefully so you know how many questions to answer, what they’re worth and which ones are compulsory.
  • All the questions and avoid leaping on the first ‘easy’ one you spot.

Plan

  • Which questions you want to answer and in what order.
  • How much time you’ve got for each one – put your watch in front of you and try and stick to your timings.
  • A list of points to give you a structure for essay questions.

Write

  • Answers to the questions that have actually been set, not the ones you’d hoped to see. Beware of questions you recognise from past papers, they may have been subtly changed.
  • As concisely as possible – keep to the point.
  • As neatly, and as quickly, as you can. Try not to spend too long on any single question however much you get into it.
  • A concise list of what you would have put in your answer if you find yourself running out of time, that way you should still score some points
  • Use any spare time you have at the end of the exam for checking through your answers.

Avoid!

Panicking – sometimes your brain takes time to find facts. Calmly re-read the paper and you’ll soon get into gear.

Mobile phones

The examination boards do not permit mobile phones within the assessment room. Do not take your mobile phone with you, however if you do bring it into the assessment room ensure it is switched off and placed in your bag.

Good luck!