• Ceri Kerrin

10 Exam Survival Tips



As the year comes to an end, the mad rush of end of year examinations can often leave one feeling overwhelmed and disheartened. Competing pressure from educators, peers, family members, and ourselves can often leave you with a feeling of constant anxiety. So here are ten tips to help you navigate your way to the end of year holidays :)


1. Give yourself enough time to study

One of the key components of storing information to memory is repetition. Providing yourself with enough time to study can help the task ahead feel more manageable. The more time you are able to spend repeating information the greater the chance of remembering the information. Studying is part of a progressive process of learning that requires ongoing repetition. So plan for enough time for reading through the material, making comprehensive study notes, and repeatedly revising those notes.


2. Organise your study space

A cluttered study space can leave your mind feeling cluttered. Taking a few minutes to organise your study space can help limit distractions. This will help to focus on the information in front of you.


3. Break things down into manageable chunks

Trying to study an entire years worth of work at once can seem like an overwhelming task, especially when there are multiple areas of learning.


How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time

But even the most unmanageable task can become manageable when it is broken down into chunks.


4. Engage your senses

Humans are multi sensory beings and we learn through all of our senses. Yet, when it comes to studying the focus is often only on the visual component of learning (reading and writing). Find a space that you are able to express yourself and utilise as many of your senses as possible. Although reading notes aloud may seem like a small difference, this change engages more areas of your brain allowing for better information retention.


5. Prioritise

Putting first things first is the key to academic success. When studying prioritise difficult subjects/tasks for when you are most awake and have the highest capacity for concentration. Place tasks that you are confident in later in the day, when you don't need as much concentration.


6. Eat properly

Nutrition is a key factor in maintaining your physical, emotional, and mental health. Throughout exams and studying ensure that you are eating a healthy and balanced meal. Avoid snaking on high sugar items during as a reward for studying.


7. Reward yourself for small accomplishments

Staying motivated during exams if often one of the most difficult task. In order to maintain motivation celebrate small milestones along the way. Rewards don't have to be big, but acknowledging what you have achieved can provide you with the motivation to push through difficult information and days when you are easily distracted.


8. Focus on whole person health

Although the focus of exams should be on studying, it is important to remember that you are a whole person and your brain functions best when your body and emotions are also healthy. Taking time out of your study schedule to relax and exercise are vital for maintaining balance during exam times.


9. Study to understand

Often studying is done to pass the exam. Although this may provide you with enough to pass the exam, it doesn't benefit the long term learning process. Information in school and university are presented like bricks in a wall, each one building on the next. Studying in order to understand provides a firm foundation on which to build the next layer of information.


10. Plan your exam

Even with the most effective study techniques and hours of effort, poor time management in the exam environment can often lead to disappointing results. Take the time to plan your paper, and don't spend too much time focusing on a question you don't know the answer to. If you don't know the answer skip it, and come back to it once you have finished answering the parts of the paper you know. As a general rule, I work out marks per minuet and use that as a rough guide for the pace I should be working at.



Although exams are an evaluation of your academic and test taking abilities, they are not an evaluation of your value as a person. Bad exams happen, and failing an exam does not make you a failure. Your value as a person is not based goes beyond your academic performance. So study hard, and remember that you are a success.


Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts - Winston Churchill

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