10 Top Tips for Exam Success on the Day

With excellent academic results and thorough preparation for UK higher education, Kings Oxford students win places at the UK’s very best universities.  Kings Oxford share their top tips and tricks for exam success.

success in exams, exam tips and tricks

10 Top Tips for Exam Success

  1. Be positive. People who tell themselves they can do things find that they can. Give yourself that pep talk, before and during the exam – you can do it!
  2. Don’t panic. The first five to ten minutes are really important. Take time to read all the sections, plan the time you will spend on each (according to the marks awarded) and make sure you follow the instructions. Remember you might not have to answer the questions in order: what is the best way for you to do the exam?
  3. 30/70. General advice is often to spend 30% of your time thinking, 70% writing. Think and make sure what you write counts.
  4. Read the question, then read it again. Identify key words and underline them. Make sure you are totally clear what the examiner is looking for, don’t just rush in or write ‘everything I know about X’. Most marks are lost because students haven’t followed instructions, answered the question or have run out of time.
  5. Note the verbs used – compare, contrast, describe, explain, identify, assess, evaluate, analyse, critique, justify – and then make sure that your answer does what has been asked.
  6. Take time to plan longer responses and essays. This will actually save you time, focus your answer and avoid just writing everything you know about X.  A short plan, possibly bullet-pointed, at the top of your paper is also a signal to the examiner that you are organised and structured in your thinking and approach.
  7. Set out mathematical problems, show your workings and don’t forget units. You are less likely to make mistakes and if you do make a mistake in your calculations you may still get marks for your understanding of the process.
  8. Don’t leave questions unanswered. Even if you don’t know the full answer, you may get marks for the parts that you do know.
  9. Re-read your answers, check your spelling, grammar and workings and make sure you haven’t made any silly mistakes.
  10. Prepare physically as well: Wear comfortable clothes – you want to feel comfortable, relaxed and not distracted; get a good night’s sleep so you are fully awake on the day – cramming won’t work; have a healthy breakfast and stay hydrated. Your body and brain need energy and water to function properly, so power up and avoid anything too heavy and that will make you feel tired and lethargic.

Good luck. Come out of the exam feeling you honestly gave your best, that is all you or anyone can expect or ask you to do.

Kings Oxford is a modern independent college for ambitious students looking for a mature yet supportive learning environment and community in which they can express their own identity, explore their interests and achieve their ambitions. The college supports students to become responsible and independent learners, based on a mutual respect between staff and students.

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