Coping with exams

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There is no escape. There is no easy way out. The only way you can make any headway in this world is by dragging yourself through that black cloud that hangs over your school life: EXAMS.
Yes, they're harsh things- more ferocious than a fire- breathing dragon, more exhausting than a cross-country run and more depressing than having to get up early on your day off. But the best of us have to do them, so the simplest solution in the long run is to just do the best we can. However, there are infinite ways in which the stress of exams can be reduced. The reason why there are infinite ways to reduce the stress is that everybody tackles it differently. The result you achieve in your exam depends on your present state of mind, which in turn is improved by knowing that you are trying your hardest. Trying your hardest also includes revision, but the mistake that it's all too easy to make is to think that revision starts from the moment you learn something new. Therefore, we must start with what you learn in class.

Lessons, coursework and teachers

Your revision depends a great deal on what you learn in the beginning; The more you understand in class, the easier it'll be to remember what it means when it comes to revision. If you have problems understanding a certain topic, ask about it. If your teacher still can't make you understand it, research it elsewhere- you can use the internet, for example, or even a revision guide.
If, in the worst- case scenario, you have the misfortune to be taught by someone who barely knows which end of the test tube to pour the acid into, however annoying it may be, there is only one thing you can do: Take matters into your own hands. If a lot of you in your class have the same problem and you know another teacher who may listen to what you have to say, tell them what the trouble is and see if they can sort something out. Don't worry- these are the most important exams you're likely to take and very few teachers will just stand by and watch you struggle unnecessarily. If you don't feel like doing this, get hold of a revision book or something along those lines, and go over the topic when you get home. Revision books might not be the best solution, but they outline the main points you'll need to know. Don't spend hours on this, just start with the most important bits. You can learn the finer details later.
Coursework is a pain, but it has to be done. It's very tempting to think around it, with such notions as "They'll probably forget about it" or even "We'll be doing other pieces of coursework, one going missing won't matter". Ah, sooo temping- but STOP IT. This is not homework, it has to be sent to the examination board and contributes towards your final exam grade. In some exams you can get 100% on the written paper but if you didn't submit any coursework you'll only get a U (Ungraded) overall. My last history teacher told my class that if you do all your coursework to an A-grade standard, you go into the exam with an E, without even writing one word. Of course, not everybody will be able to do their corsework to that standard, but it gives you some idea of the marks coursework helps you to get.
Therefore, start it as early as you can. Doing it early means that if you have to improve bits of it there won't be a mad rush to get it sorted. At the risk of stating the obvious, if in doubt ask a teacher. Not possible? Ask another teacher. Still a problem? Ask your friends. It's best to do it in best on the computer, because that makes mistakes a lot easier to correct, instead of copying the lot up three times by hand. Trust me, I've been there.
If you struggle with coursework, ask somebody to help. You may find that your school does homework help clubs or revision sessions. If they don't, ask your teacher to help you one lunchtime or after school, even if it is just to go over it. It's also very important to prioritise- do the most work on the coursework that you've got the least time to complete.
One more tip: DO NOT TRY TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE. You cannot sit down, work on a piece of coursework and not get up until it is finished- a 1000-word essay will take forever and your concentration will start to weaken after about 40 minutes. Split it up, and try to do a bit to each piece of coursework, one at a time. Maybe do half an hour on one piece of coursework, take a 5-minute break, do half an hour on another piece, take another break, and so on. If you only have one piece of coursework, taking regular breaks is a good way to do it- but try to set an hour or so free each day, so that you can work on it gradually. This technique is also good for revision.

Mock Exams

Mock exams are the exams you will take about five months before you sit the real thing. They are just like ordinary exam papers, and are a bit like a "Dress Rehearsal". They are also taken as a final indication of what you're expected to get in your GCSEs. They are not always accurate- not all teachers will take your coursework into account but whether they do or they don't, you will get given a grade. Chances are, you will get a real shock when you find out what you got in your mock exams; I was given a D in my science mock, two grades below what I was expected to get. However, this is the slap on the face that a lot of people will need to encourage them to revise. The grades you get will also show what you need to work most at in the following months. The lowest grade I got in my mock was a D in science, so I worked at that most and got a B in the real thing. YOU MUST NOT TAKE YOUR MOCK GRADE AS THE FINAL DEATH SENTENCE. It counts for nothing, and you still get five months to brush up on everything you have problems with. It can be done, if you put the work in.


You can start revising as early as you want, it's up to you. As a general rule, I'd recommend that you start revision as soon as you get your mock results and use them as a guide to what you need to work on most.
Think of revision as a 1000 metre race. When you run 1000 metres you don't take off like a panther, because you'll be exhausted before you get a quarter of the way through the race. You've got to warm up first, so start small- maybe half an hour or so each day to begin with. After a week, do a bit more- maybe two half-hour sessions each day, for example. NOT FINISHED

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