From the Counsellor’s Chair
As we come up to the GCSE and A Level examinations period Mrs R Good, the School Counsellor, writes about revision and how to prepare for the examinations.
‘Most people find examinations stressful because what is at stake. You may be feeling under pressure to succeed. You may worry you’ve not good enough or haven’t done enough work. It can be especially worrying if something important to you depends on the results. Remember, if you have previously experienced being anxious or unwell in stressful situations, it is quite common for exams and similar situations to cause this to reoccur.
In a previous Priory Post, I offered parents’ advice how to support examinees through the exam season. However, it will be pupils and students who will be sitting doing the examinations. So how can you reduce your stress levels around exam time so it’s more manageable? One key to this lies in preparation.
- Remind yourself that you can only do your best. To help achieve this reduce some of the other stresses around you to help increase your capacity to manage revision and exams.
- Get your examination timetable as soon as possible. Confirm when and how you will be examined.
- Catch up with any outstanding work, and ‘clear the decks,’ so you are ready to ‘go.’
- Consider and collect suitable revision resources. Use what works for you: working with another student or in a support group; going over past examination papers; getting family members to ‘test’ you; BBC revision tools; mind maps; flash cards; headings and notes; setting yourself questions and answers on subjects. Ask teachers, parents or siblings who have gone through the process what worked for them.
- Remind family and friends that you have exams and they may need to be patient with you. You may want to ask that a quiet space, for instance your bedroom, and certain times, are particularly respected for the duration of your revision and exams.
- Prepare your work space, books, note pads, pens, pin board, and other resources you need.
Plan a revision timetable
- Give yourself sufficient time before the first exam date to start revising. Once you have decided on the date stick to it.
- Draw up a revision timetable. It should be linked to your exam timetable, so you revise subjects in the right order. It also needs to be realistic and flexible in case of any unexpected events, and balances your revision with other demands on your time such as meals, sleep, chores, as well as time for relaxing. It needs to take into account your best time of day for studying. If it’s useful and possible, mix what you consider dull subjects/topics with more interesting ones during the planning stage.
- Revisit your social diary and see where it fits into the revision timetable. Go out but don’t cram your social diary so full of dates they eat into revision time. Once the exams have finished you will have the opportunity to socialise more.
- Remember, once you have decided on a start date for your revision stick to it.
- Have a dedicated, comfortable, quiet study. Keep it clutter free and organised to avoid distractions. Try and keep the study area away from where you sleep. Avoid working on the bed – it’s all too tempting to have a snooze. Have another study area in mind if you know you will need a change of environment.
- Watch out for those monster temptations: TV; DVDs; mobiles; game consoles; computers. Unless you need your computer for research, treat these all as treats.
- Learn to day, ‘No,’ to people who take up your dedicated revision time. Don’t think of it as being rude or awkward. It’s a matter of prioritising and sticking to your boundaries to help reduce your stress. If people have your best interests at heart they will understand.
- Structure is important. Keep to your revision timetable; only change it if it’s really not working.
- Set yourself a goal for each revision session. Have a break after each session. A suggestion is a 10 – 15 minute break every 45 – 60 minutes or thereabouts. If it is difficult to get started on the day then begin with a subject or topic that is easier and enjoyable but which still fits in with your exam timetable.
- Switching methods of revising can help maintain interest. For instance you may wish to recite facts out loud, write summaries, do mind maps, write notes, do questions and answers, go over previous examination papers, or work in support groups.
- Avoid working at least an hour before you go to bed.
In the next instalment of managing exam stress I will take a look at methods of de-stressing. Until then, ‘Good luck.’ ‘
Categories: Priory Post