Exam Preparation

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Senior Examination Weeks
This set of examinations is critical. If a students for any reason is unable to sit the end of year NCEA examinations, the grade obtained contributes towards a possible derived grade.  The following information is provided to help in the important preparation and to develop a rigorous study and revision programme.
Examination Preparation Tips
Getting Started
The earlier you start, the more time you will have to prepare for the examination. You don't have to wait until examination time approaches; try to set the stage from the beginning of the course by reviewing the material after each class. By starting early and studying on a regular basis, you will have a better opportunity to absorb the information and life will be a lot easier when it's time to put it all together for the examination.
Make sure all of your course material is well organized so you can find and fill any gaps. If you miss any classes, get the notes from your friends right away instead of scrambling at the last minute. Proper organization will help you to get a better picture of the material that has to be covered and improve the flow of the study process.
Creating a Study Plan
As the examination nears, you will need to create a plan to help you study effectively and minimize stress. The first step is to figure out how much time and effort you must dedicate to studying for the examination by asking the following questions:
  • How much material do you need to cover?
  • How difficult is the material?
  • How much time is available?
  • Do you have any other priorities during the study period?
  • What is the format of the examination?
  • How important is the examination?
  • What is your performance target for the examination?
To prepare the study plan, map out all of the material that has to be covered and make a schedule showing what, when and how much you will study each day. If you have kept up with the course work, studying will involve revision of the material that you have already covered. If you are behind in the course, you will have to finish the readings and other uncompleted work before starting the revision (if there isn't enough time to go over everything, you must decide what is most important for the examination).
Here are some tips to follow in creating your study plan:
  • budget your time realistically;
  • allocate the study time into several manageable study sessions;
  • divide the course material into small segments and assign them to the study sessions;
  • set clear and specific goals for the study sessions;
  • prioritize to ensure that material weighted more heavily in the examination gets sufficient study time;
  • take into account your familiarity with the material and the difficulty level;
  • don't make the study sessions too long;
  • study sessions should have enough variety in terms of topics and activities to prevent boredom and loss of effectiveness;
  • avoid cramming before the examination; and
  • don't forget to include regular breaks.
Studying for the Examination
You are now armed with a plan and ready to start studying for the examination. Try to study in a location where you can concentrate and won't be interrupted. You can work with others or join a study group if you find it helpful, but be careful to keep it from turning into an inefficient use of your time. Some proven study tools and techniques are listed below - people respond to different learning styles, so use what works for you.
Revising with Summary Notes
Make a condensed version of your readings and class notes by creating summary notes. Pinpoint the key terms and concepts and make sure that you understand them. You can identify key terms and concepts by paying attention to what has been emphasized in your classes, textbooks and course syllabus. For example, if a particular topic has taken up a lot of time in the classroom, it is more likely to be on the examination and you should have a good understanding of it.
The process of making summary notes can help you to retain more information. By writing the information thoughtfully instead of just seeing it, you can develop a greater perception of the material. To take this further, activate your other senses: you can recite the summary notes aloud, and even record and listen to them.
Memorising with Flashcards
Flashcards (or "index cards") are a good memorization tool. Reduce your summary notes into bullet points, keywords, lists, formulas and diagrams and place them onto a card for each topic. (Some people like to use flashcards to prepare their summary notes in the first place, while others find that it leads to information overload.)
The items on the flashcards act as memory triggers. By memorizing the flashcards you can enhance your ability to recall larger bits of information referenced by the triggers. You can carry the cards with you and review them even when you have only short bursts of time available.
Practicing under Examination Conditions
Knowing the course material is necessary but not sufficient to guarantee success on the examination - you also need to be able to communicate the answers effectively under examination conditions. Practice using sample questions in the same format as the examination and answer them in a simulated test environment. The sample questions can be sourced from old examinations and assignments, which are often similar from year to year with small changes. Even though you are only practicing, it is better to write full answers to the questions so you can work through the entire thought process.
The practice session should serve as a feedback loop. Check the answers to the practice questions to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses. If you are weak in an area, go back and study it further to address any gaps.
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