Thursday, 10 April 2014

Top tips from our expert tutors on how to prepare for your exams


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It’s coming up to Easter, and for learners studying general education courses the summer exam season is starting to loom. Here at NEC we thought it would be a good time to put together some revision tips for those of you who will be sitting exams this summer.

First, a tip from Ros Morpeth, CEO of NEC: “Don’t delay, start today! Beginning your revision early not only reduces the chance of any last-minute rushing, but also means you have a safety net of extra time to allow for any unexpected emergencies that might come up. The more time you give yourself the better your preparation will be, the more confidence you will have in the exam, and the higher likelihood that you will do well.”

Here are some of the excellent tips our subject tutors have shared to help you make the most of your study time in the run-up to summer:
“Review the contents of your textbooks so that you have an overview of the course. Do the same with each specific topic that you have selected for revision. Follow your own selection of topics covered in the textbooks. Examine one topic at a time and digest it. Look where the author has highlighted points.”
– Phillip, Law and Government and Politics.

“Marks are awarded in the exam for the correct use of terminology so make sure that you understand the key terms listed at the end of each topic.”
– Alison, Geography and Environmental Studies.

“Mathematics students should remember ABC:
A stands for Answer. Make sure that your answers are supported by working.
B stands for biro. Write your answers in dark ink and NOT in pencil.
C stands for calculator. Before entering the exam room, make sure that your calculator is on the right mode. (A quick check is sin 30 and the display should be 0.5 exactly.)”
– Graham, Maths.

“Remember the ‘Five Times Rule’: until you have gone over something five times you are not guaranteed to remember it!”
– Janet, Biology.

“Do something active - do more than just reading through the course material and your notes. Write down the main points of a topic, then try to do it without looking at your notes. Check you have done it correctly; if not, do it again until you can get it all right from memory. Some students find it useful to record themselves reading their notes out loud, then listening to them in the car, gym, doing housework, etc.”
– Josie, Biology.

“My main points are, to read the question carefully and underline the key words like,
'How' meaning how does the writer use language to create meaning.
'Compare' which also means discuss the similarities and differences.
'Explain' meaning to discuss the effect on the reader without narrating the story.”
– Valerie, Classical Civilisation, English and Sociology.

“While it is not subject specific I do think that students need to be reminded that rest, relaxation and practising calm breathing techniques are very important. Doing deep breathing exercises helps the blood flow round the system more efficiently… and the brain works better.”
– Ruth, Philosophy.

“My advice is to revise in manageable bite-size chunks. Summarise revision using bullet points or mind maps or even cartoons. Do not revise in isolation - be aware of the type of questions you might be asked so that there is focus and organisation to your revision. In addition, allow time nearer the exams for short term revision to ensure thorough knowledge and understanding - in other words to go over what you originally revised.”
– Steve, History.

“Two fairly obvious ones is get some past papers and maybe request your tutor to mark a past paper for you. Divide the marks available by the time available and try to allocate your time per question accordingly.”
– Dave, Accounting and Business Studies.

“Make sure you have completed all the assignments before you sit your exams. In this way you will have covered all the work you are likely to see in the exam. Practice by downloading some old exam papers off the web. Usually they are free and answers are provided.
The night before your exam stop revising at 8 pm, have a warm drink and a chocolate biscuit, watch Corrie and go to bed!”
– Alan, Maths.

Want to find out more about our tutors or their subjects? Visit our website to learn all about NEC and our work, and to browse our full range of flexible distance learning courses. You can keep up with all the latest NEC news and events by subscribing to our email newsletter or following our blog. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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