Improving Exam Performance Sarah Williams
Education with the personal touch
What comes to mind when you think of exams?
Anxiety? Excitement? Dread? Memories of previous exams? Determination? Goals to be achieved? Thoughts of future career/study? Other?
Exam stress ď‚§ Symptoms? ď‚§ What do you imagine as the worst it might be, when in an exam?
When the brain interprets situation as threatening (eg.â€œI may failâ€?)
Message of threat is sent down the Sympathetic Nervous System to adrenal glands
Logical, rational thinking put on hold Heart beats faster Increased blood circulation
Glucose released for extra energy
A D R E N A L I N
Why do we need stress? Anxiety keeps you safe
It is your body’s normal response to a perceived threat But….. You do not have to be controlled by your anxiety Be aware, anxiety will work like a parasite – it will try to persuade you to do things that make it stronger and avoid things that make it weaker
What helps deal with stress ?
Breathing strategies Relaxation Taking control Looking after yourself Using different ways of thinking
Breathing strategies 7/11 (3/5) breathing Breathe deep down into your stomach Breathe in for a count of 3 Breathe out for a count of 5 Repeat for a few minutes You can use this when you feel stressed. Practising it once or twice a day will reduce your overall stress levels
Relaxation strategies 1. Progressive muscle relaxation 2. Mindfulness :
Pick a spot in the room and look at it in detail Notice how many colours and shapes you can see within that spot, notice texture, shadow and light While still staring at the same spot, see what you can notice in your peripheral vision. What colours and shapes can you make out now? Then bring your attention back to the same spot and see if you can notice anything new
Taking Control : Time, Revision, Life 1. Don’t let stress bully you 2. Your learning space: What do you need? 3. Time management : Plan Structure – reassuring and good for our brains Goals
Taking control of time and revision How do I revise best? On my own? With others? What revision strategies work for me? Plan time – now. When are my exams? What will I need to revise?
Mark in the phases of the task Show the trouble spots and milestones How long will each section take, between trouble spots and milestones? Remember to allow time for other important things
Task: Plan your own timeline till the start of your first exam. Choose your layout. Mark in stage by stage, the revision you plan to undertake (as far as you are able) Show the likely trouble spots and milestones (eg. times when thereâ€™s lots of deadlines, holidays)
Dates Subject 1 Subject 2 Subject 3
Materials: incl. highlighter pens
• X • Y • Z Skim read, notes, highlight key issues
Active revision techniques?
Strategies? (Review progress)
Re-visit Key ideas
Progress made?: Areas of most concern?:
Study time: 2 hours 15 mins
How are you using your study time? Decide your priorities Create a weekly calendar Keep a daily ‘to-do’ list Understand what stops you from concentrating. What are the distractions? Are you organised or chaotic? Do you wish to be perfect and feel anxious that you are not? Do you procrastinate?
Why have exams? What is revision about? Revision helps prepare us for performance It is similar to training for a sporting event or rehearsing for a performance To revise well you must move information into your long term memory, ensure it is easily accessible, practice retrieving and using it and rehearse doing it well Revision should be active not passive – it should involve thought. Simply reading notes will not be as effective
Take control and look after yourself Sleep Exercise Diet Hydration
Take control of your thinking: adopt a positive mindset What kinds of negative thoughts do you or others have about taking exams?
If I fail it will be a disaster.... My mind will go blank, I won’t remember what I’ve learned I can never learn it all I’m not good enough, I’ll never understand it well enough I just hate exams “What if…………” ”If only………….” “I mustn’t….” “I must.....”
Exams aren’t planned to catch you out
Take control of the exam Plan • What you need to take with you • Enough quality sleep (7-8 hours per night) • What you eat. Aim for a good, high fibre diet. Foods to boost brain function: dark leafy veg, Omega-3 rich food, fresh fruit etc. • Hydration • Try to avoid too much social networking • Exercise Imagine Success – what will it feel like?
On the day
Don’t be tempted to learn anything new Playlist of calming/motivating/music Avoid panicking people Good breathing practice Visualisation Positive self talk Take water: (study by Universities of E. London & Westminster found those with water scored an average of 5% higher than those without. Water may have physiological effect on thinking functions. Can also alleviate anxiety)
In the exam
Read through questions Plan time for each question Start with what you feel most confident about Plan your answers – you don’t need to put down everything Positive breathing and mindfulness strategies. If your brain ‘freezes’ focus on a point in the room, use breathing/mindfulness, then start writing things you do know
Afterwards: • Don’t forget to say ‘well done’ to yourself. • What can you learn for next time? • Avoid post-mortems, if you can help it
Published on Mar 7, 2018