Date posted: 22/06/2016

How to increase your exam performance

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Tests and exams are an inevitable part of learning. They're not there to trip you up, but to measure how well you have understood the subject. Even if you know the content well, there are ways to help yourself perform better on the day.

Some people thrive on exams, others aren't so fortunate. A disciplined approach will make your task easier, and - hopefully - improve your results.

Before the exam

  • Your success starts before you even sit down for the exam. Look at previous tests, and analyse how well you did, and where there could be room for improvement.
  • Have a good night's sleep - arriving to an exam exhausted won't do you any favours.
  • Always arrive early for an exam. Arriving late will just add to your stress levels.
  • Arrive with a good attitude: be positive, smile, and be confident. If you suffer from exam anxiety, don't panic - take deep breaths and try to relax.

During the exam

  • Read the directions carefully, and slowly - making careless mistakes are costly, and you don't want to make mistakes if you can avoid them.
  • Read through the whole exam before answering, to give an overall picture of your task.
  • Answer easy questions first; that way you won't get stuck on a tricky question and run out of time. Look for the key words in the question: there are usually one or two that will give you a clue.
  • Don't leave when you're finished; review all your answers and double-check you've answered all questions correctly.
  • Double-check your spelling, punctuation and grammar.

After the exam

Be positive: think about those tasks you know you did well on. Avoid a 'post mortem'. Discussing with other students how well you and they did, or didn't do, will only drag you down.

After the exam, don't go back to study or work right away: give yourself some time off to relax doing something you enjoy.