For the next few weeks, our Year 12 students will sit the most important exams of their school years.
And they will be followed by younger students completing their end-of-year exams across our Brisbane Catholic Education schools.
So, what’s the best way for students – and parents – to prepare for this time of year?
Here are some tips I’ve gathered during my time in schools, from when I was a student until now.
- Hope isn’t a strategy
It pays to be positive but it takes more than good thoughts to achieve the best results. Be prepared to work hard in these next few weeks. It won’t be easy but the dedication will be worth it. Keep in mind that exam preparation is a marathon, not a sprint. The best results come from a long-term approach and now is the time to fine-tune that preparation.
- Move out of your comfort zone
Sometimes students can stick to revising work that they know well. That may be because they enjoy that topic or they feel as though they have mastered it. But the best results often come from working on the topics that aren’t so easy. Stretch yourself during your study and wade into the topics that really test your knowledge.
- Reach a balance in passive versus active preparation
Passive preparation takes the form of reading textbooks and going back over notes already compiled. You will read through the passages hoping that your brain stores the knowledge. Active preparation involves physically taking the concepts and writing them down to recall facts through the likes of flashcards or mind maps.
- Play to your strengths
This is not a time of the year to change routine. If you’re a night owl and you generally stay up late, then maintain that habit. It’s the same if you’re a lark and early to bed and early to rise. Routine is important to so that you are feeling bright.
- Practise handwriting
In this age of computers, we don’t write as much. But the exams will include a writing component that may mean you’re using hand muscles not often used at length. It pays to practise that writing so that your mind is focusing on your subject matter and not on your tired hand.
- Complete past exam papers
This is a great way to prepare because it moves your mindset into exam mode. While the questions will be different this year, they will be in a similar style to previous years in terms of the thinking and answering required to do well.
- Look after yourself
Reward yourself with regular breaks to freshen your mind. Sleep well. Eat well. Make sure you’re hydrated. Parents, it’s worth considering fewer chores around the house for senior students during this time. But they can make up for it when their exams are over.
These are important weeks and those who have been most consistent with their homework and study across the year will be rewarded. But remember that this is a snapshot in time – the results will not dictate your life ahead whether you’re an A student or someone just hoping to pass your exams.
Enjoy the experience and know that it can develop good habits that can be used for many years.
Dr Sally Towns is the Executive Director of Brisbane Catholic Education