6 Tips for Exam Preparation at Boarding School
Whilst exams may seem miles away, now’s the time to start preparing! Stick around as we look at 6 tips to help you prepare for exams and help you make the most out of your revision time whilst at boarding school.
1. Finding the Best Study Method For You!
The best way to make the most of your revision time is to figure out how you learn most effectively. This will be different for everyone. Some students at boarding school may find they are more of a visual learners whilst others may prefer auditory or physical methods.
What do these mean? Well, let’s have a look:
- Visual Learners- this type of student may find that colour coding, drawing images or diagrams help most in remembering and recalling information. They may also find creating a colour code system and using it to highlight key facts and figures in big chunks of text can be very beneficial in identifying key information and understanding the topic in a more organised way, reducing the need to feel overwhelmed.
- Auditory Learners- this type of student may find that short songs with key pieces of information or repeatedly listening to someone explain your topic helps you best in understanding and memorising. They may find it helpful to create your own songs using a familiar tune with key pieces of information you need to learn.
- Physical Learners- this type of student may find that being actively involved in learning, such as partaking in experiments or activities, helps most in recalling and understanding information. There are many ways to help this type of learner including going to places they are learning about, partaking in experiments, or creating physical objects (such as miniature replicas).
So, how can you figure out which method will suit you best? Think back to previous years of learning, especially looking at areas where you excelled. This could be a test that went really well or a subject you got a good grade in. Try to remember the different factors that lead to your success, including your teacher's teaching method and how you revised.
Another way to learn what revision method is best for you is through trial and error. Have a play around with the different revision methods below and discover which one suits you best.
You can also have a talk with your teacher or tutor at boarding school. They may be able to discuss different revision methods and help you create a good revision plan that is best suited to you.
REMEMBER: You may find you don’t fit into just one of these methods, but a mixture of two or even all three! Every student is unique and will eventually find the best revision method to suit them. Just remember to be patient and kind with yourself!
2. Solo or Team Effort?
As important it is to understand what type of revision method best suits you, it is also just as important to understand whether you are better off revising solo, studying in a group or a little bit of both.
Revising in a group can be a fun and effective way to understand your subject. There are many benefits of revising in a group including:
- Helping One Another- If you or someone else in the group is struggling to understand the topic, there is usually one person in the group who can help to explain it in a way that is more relatable. This is because they have more recently tackled similar challenges and thoughts compared to a teacher who understands the topic at a different level and has long forgotten struggles you find at the start of learning a new subject.
- Increase Your Knowledge- Working in a group can help identify gaps in each other’s learning and also open up a space to understand the topic at a deeper level. For instance, if you were learning about colours, your teacher might only teach you about red, yellow and blue. But through learning in a group, one person may tell the group about the colour turquoise and another might say about purple and how it is made. So now you not only understand the primary colours, but also have a better understanding of colours in general.
- Splitting Workload- for instance, you can split a topic into different sections that each person has to work on (like finding quotes, authors, extra information) and then relaying this back to the group to learn together.
- More time to spend on Exam Techniques
- Increased Motivation to Learn and Study- each of you in the group can help motivate one another!
- Test Each Other’s Knowledge
And we're sure there are probably a few other benefits too! If you think this is the best route for you, then try to see if you can find a few others who also want to join a study group (between 3-5 people works best!). But remember, this is only effective if everyone in the group is willing to put in the effort and devote a certain amount of time to revising.
If there are people in the group who aren’t pulling their weight or aren’t taking the revision session seriously, it can become an issue and lead to more distractions, less revision and more stress. So choose your revision group wisely!
Some people may prefer to work alone, and this is perfectly alright! There are just as many benefits to working solo as there are to working in a team. This includes:
- Less Distractions- as discussed above, if you don’t find the right people in the group it can lead to more distractions and less time spent revising.
- Personal Study Environment- When you work in a group, you may not be able to choose the best environment for you to revise. When you revise solo, you can decide where and when you revise. If you prefer silence, you may find the best place at your boarding school is in a library or designated study space. Or if you like a bit of background noise, you might find your boarding school has a common room or outside area where you can revise.
- Focus on Areas You Need To Study- when revising solo, you can choose to spend more time on areas where you feel weakest, instead of going through everything at the same level.
- Revision Method best suited to you- You can decide what revision method is best suited to you and follow that throughout your revision time.
Some students at boarding school may like a little bit of both group revision and solo revision. If you feel this way, go for it! Just try not to work yourself to a state of burnout. For instance, if you usually spend 7 hours a week revising, split that between the solo and group revision rather than spending 7 hours of solo revision and 7 hours of group revision sessions. All you will do is double your workload and wear yourself out.
3. Create A Revision Schedule
You might have the best notes, the best flashcards, and the best revision guide, but without setting a schedule all of these things can become worthless. Setting a revision schedule and sticking to it can be a huge help in learning the materials you need for your exam.
When creating a revision schedule make sure it is realistic. There’s no way you're going to be able to revise for 5 hours straight a day for seven days a week or learn several chapters in an hour. Learning and understanding information takes time to sink in.
We suggest revising daily for short periods. This allows the information to sink in whilst not overloading your mind. This might be setting aside an hour a day when you finish school or taking a couple of short revision sessions throughout the day (such as 30 mins at lunch, 30 mins after school, 30 mins after dinner). Find what works best for you and stick with it. When exam season comes along, you’ll be very thankful that you did!
4. Flash Cards
Flash cards are a great way to memorise and learn your subject. All you need to do is write a prompt or question on one side and then on the other side write the answer, easy!
You can make these flashcards as fun as you want! For instance you may use specific colour codes for different topics or types of information. Or you may choose to add doodles or images, which can be very helpful in memorisation.
Here are just a few reasons why flashcards work so well:
- They help with active recall
- They stimulate your memory
- They create lasting connections to the material
To make your flashcards even more effective, try to learn the information rather than just recalling it. Instead of just regurgitating facts, add in a few flashcards that ask for an application of the information to help you actively learn the concept.
5. Past Papers
Spending some time reading through and practising past papers is a great way to prepare for your exams. This allows you to know what type of questions will come up on the exam, give you an idea of how in-depth or how much information you need to provide to get a good mark, and how long to spend on answers.
When you're at school, you learn a lot of information. But usually you only need a fraction of that knowledge for the exam question. For instance, in English you may learn and memorise 10 different poems. But for the exam, you only really need to discuss 3 out of those 10 poems in depth.
By understanding what the exam board is looking for, you can then allocate your revision time wisely instead of trying to give 100% for every single area.
So, where can you find these past papers? All UK exam boards publish their past exams for each subject on their website. All you need to do is find out what exam board your subject is using (for instance, are they using AQA, IB, or some other board) and what code is used for your subject. Your teacher will know all the information you need for your exam and access to past papers, so ask them and they should be able to help.
6. Relax and Take Breaks
As exam season approaches, it can be easy to get into a whirlwind of panic and think you should be revising from sunrise to sunset. But this never works and only causes more stress and panic which then reflects in your exam.
Some wise words from a great TV show, Boy Meets World, reflect perfectly on what you should do:
“Clear Your Mind, Get Sleep, Trust Yourself.”- Mr Feeny.
By doing these three things you give your mind a chance to rest and put yourself into a good state of mind. Having a good state of mind by trusting in yourself can make a huge difference when you enter the exam room and take your test.
If you go into your exam thinking little of yourself and knowledge, chances are you’re going to make mistakes and doubt yourself.
We hope all of these tips help you as you prepare for your exams! If you have any other tips, leave us a comment below or send us a message on one of our social medias.