Exam Study Techniques

Embedding knowledge

The exam period can be a very stressful time for students, revision takes a lot of self discipline and motivation. Yet, very little (if any) of the school timetable is allocated to study techniques. This can be particularly tough for students who struggle with transferring short-term learning into embedded knowledge (i.e. most of us)!

Weak memory is an issue that affects many students, especially those with dyslexia and other related Specific Learning Differences (SpLDs), and revision can add even more worry and stress to already anxious students.

Stress free studying that works
This guide has a whole month’s worth of ideas and resources to help students (and parents/carers) get to grips with stress-free studying that works!

Our rules
• If you know how to study, you can achieve better results in less time. Who wouldn’t want that?
• Don’t write yourself off before you’ve even started. A positive attitude makes all the difference!
• Keep it short – sprints generate far more energy and excitement than marathons.
• Mix it up – try and use activities that use auditory/hearing, visual and hands-on methods.

Active v Passive Learning
Have you heard the following quote from Benjamin Franklin: 'Tell me, and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me, and I learn?' It's proven that people learn better if they're actively involved in what they're doing. You may not be surprised to hear that reading a textbook is a passive activity, and you’re likely to forget most of what you read!

A study activity for every day of the month
Don’t know where to start? Here’s a different revision activity for every day of the month – so mix it up and try doing at least 2 different activities every day.  With exams looming, a small amount of revision every day (starting now if you haven’t already!) is really going to pay off in May/June.

  1. Summarise a passage in 15 words max (harder than it sounds!)
  2. Make a spider-diagram
  3. Think of 3-5 real-life examples of what you’ve read
  4. Decide which is the best of your examples
  5. List 50 mini questions about the subject (imagine testing someone else)
  6. Write answers to your mini questions
  7. Write a study plan for the week ahead
  8. Keep a reflective study journal
  9. Sum up the 3 most important points of a lesson/chapter
  10. What is the most critical aspect, and why?
  11. Make a wallchart or large plan and link aspects together
  12. Decide which is the best book you are using and why
  13. Which section of the book is most interesting or useful? Why?
  14. Pretend you disagree with everything you’re reading and explain why. Argue your case. What examples would you use to support this?
  15. Invent titles for essays or reports and spend 5 minutes writing a plan
  16. List the key points for one aspect of your studies
  17. Draw a picture or symbol for each point
  18. Discuss your ideas/difficulties
  19. Contribute to an online chat/discussion or start one
  20. Write the main points of an essay/answer on cards/sticky notes and move them around to explore different structures
  21. Teaching topics to others is a great way to learn.  Make a PowerPoint presentation about what you’re revising and teach it to someone else (even your pet)!
  22. Create podcasts using voice memos on your phone and then listen back to them on the bus or walking to school.
  23. The app Chegg Flashcards https://www.chegg.com/flashcards is fab and free and can’t get lost, eaten or smothered in jam!  Use this app to test yourself anywhere randomly, anytime
  24. Even good old-fashioned revision cards work better on the move.
  25. Create big, colourful posters or a mind map for each topic
  26. Revise different subjects in different rooms in your house. Visualise the room to trigger your memory in the exam
  27. Invent mnemonics for factual terms or spellings (Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants = BECAUSE)
  28. Create acronyms to synthesise information into just one word (doesn’t need to be a real word). Google some examples.
  29. Write out your notes a few times, condensing them down each time to fewer and fewer words that will trigger your memory of the subject.
  30. If your assessment includes a presentation practice in front of someone you know, in the mirror or on video
  31. If your assessment includes a practical component, use role-play as an effective way of putting your knowledge into practice, before the examination.

Further action you can take
Exams are daunting for all students, the key to success is finding the best technique to encourage short-term learning into embedded knowledge. By embracing a positive attitude and incorporating active learning methods, such as summarising passages, making mind maps, and role-playing, students can improve their memory retention and achieve better results.

To take the next step and have additional support, we invite you to book a free assessment in-centre or online with Kip McGrath. Our experienced teachers will provide personalised guidance to help your child succeed.

Published in Global