Very few people look forward to revising and taking exams:

  • Those feelings of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount that you have to learn
  • Being unable to sit down and focus at times
  • Getting pulled away by distractions and a general lack of motivation
  • Late night coffee and sugar fuelled cramming sessions
  • The dreaded turning over of the paper on the day of the exam !!!

All sounding a bit familiar? 


After years teaching teenagers at both GCSE and A’Level and working as an intervention tutor, I have pulled together a list of top tips to help you get through those difficult months.

These tips don’t just work for teenagers and young adults, they work for anyone taking an exam or even for people preparing for a new business pitch, public speaking or work presentation.

Ten tips for reducing exam stress and for success

Tip 1.
Get a calendar and put it somewhere where you will see it everyday. Mark on it the date(s) of the exam(s) or the event and start your revision several months beforehand.

Tip 2.
Clarify what motivates you: Why are your learning this? Where will it help lead you?
Where do you want to be? Create a poster of these motivations and put it above where you revise.

Tip 3.
Memorise small chunks of information at a time (note cards can work
well for this, with keywords as prompts for focusing or explaining one topic).

Tip 4.
Research and use several revision and memory methods, these are good but
plenty of others can be found online. Find and use the one that works best for you.

Tip 5.
Seek guidance from friends, family and tutors if your methods are not working very well. They may be able to provide insights into what has worked for them and perhaps they can make suggestions for what might work better for you.

Tip 6.

Test yourself frequently as you go along. Involve friends or family to help revisit past
tests, to help keep them fresh in your mind.

Tip 7.
If there are specific points you need help with, don’t get stuck. Make a simple note of them and then go and seek out the help you need.

Tip 8.
Copies of a syllabus make for a great checklist for what you know and what you still need to work on.

Tip 9.
Make it fun & enjoy it – if you like singing; sing it, drawing; draw it, role play; act it.
Pretend to address a room full of applause if it helps you.
With a good imagination this can really work!

Tip 10.
It’s important to create the neural pathways in your brain that you want
and to prepare your body to support you for the exam.

How? Do what the top athletes do: 

  1. Use visualisation to prepare your mind and body.  Visualise yourself sat at the exam table and finding out that you know each question like the back of your hand – it feels great, right! Then pick up that book smiling and visualise that what you’re studying now was one of those subjects on that paper, and the next subject is too, and the next. You are going to floor it at this rate!
  2. Train yourself to be in the present moment.  Focus on the task in hand. Right now you’re studying subject A – don’t worry about the other subjects, you’ll come to them in a bit. Worry occurs when you focus on the future instead of dealing with the present and it stops you focussing on what you need to learn right now.
  3. Eat the appropriate foods for your brain’s top performance such as list them here and also those that support your body in times of stress. More information on this can be found from links

Coming soon Synthesis Learning’s next post:
Transitioning from GCSE to A’Level or BTEC

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Nigel F Huddleston is a learning coach and therapist with over 23 years of experience teaching teenagers and young adults. 

To discuss individual needs or explore creating your own personalised strategy, Nigel is available to book for a skype or 1-to-1 session. Please call Nigel now on 07916148002 or complete a contact form
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