Friday, 12 July 2013


With the Cambridge Key, Preliminary, First and Advanced exams just a couple of weeks away, all our students are now focusing on exam preparation.  

We have seen an increase in students asking for extra private lessons and many have been taking exam technique advice from their teachers.  It's a stressful time for both staff and students, as everyone is really keen to get good results.  

Here are some tips from on what students can do in the next few weeks to boast their chances:

1. Look after yourself

Try to be well rested and well nourished in preparation for exams. "Drink plenty of fluids, eat a good healthy breakfast," advises Professor Sarah Moore, co-author of The Ultimate Study Skills Handbook. "The fresher and more energetic you feel, the more it will support your ability to tackle the cognitive challenges."

2. Plan your work

Some people concentrate better at night, others prefer to be up with the larks. Stick to a consistent working pattern so your mind and body can adjust, and take plenty of short breaks.

3. Know your exam

Your teachers will have done practise tet with you to help you understand the tructure of your exam.  Think about how to plan your time in each section of the written exams and anticipate the questions you will be asked in the oral part of the exam.  

4. Be on top of the practicalities

It is easy to forget practical details, so be clear about simple things like start times, venue, equipment, material you can or cannot bring, and so on. Plan how you are getting to school in advance and make sure you arrive before the start time of your exam.  Also, remember that you must bring your Identity Card to the exam - if you forget it, you won't be able to do the exam!

5. Get hold of recent exam papers

You will have done practise papers in school but there are lots more online, so find them and do as many as possible at home!  

6. Understand your examiner's marking scheme

Think about the writing and the speaking sections of the exams.  These are your chance to show what you can do in English!  So, use grammar appropriate to your level and make your vocabulary interesting.  Think about what the examiner will award marks for.  

7. Don't despair

Even if you feel underprepared, you can do a lot with the short time you have left. "Night-before notes can be an active way of capturing, condensing and summarising your exam material," says Moore. "Sketching out short signposts is a great way of gaining last-minute command over some of the trickier aspects of your studies."

8. Tighten up your writing technique

In an exam, it doesn't matter what you know if you can't express it clearly and concisely. "The examiner will be reading fast," points out Williams. "With only three minutes per essay, ease of reading makes for a more cogent argument."

9. Clockwatch

Be aware of what you can realistically do in the allotted time. If you have one hour per question, you might allow around 10 minutes to consider the question and jot down notes, then 45-50 minutes writing time. But don't be tempted to skimp on one question to lavish time on another, urges Williams. "The first 50% of marks in any question are much easier to pick up than the next 20%," she says.

10. Avoid postmortems

As soon as one exam is over, move swiftly to focusing on the next one. "Dwelling on an exam that you have completed wastes energy and time, and will drive you crazy," says Moore. "Remember, be positive, stay calm, and mobilise your energies to do the best job possible on the day."


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