Our Top 5 Tips to Ace Exams

Nov 3, 2017NCEA, NCEA Exam Results, Study Tips, Tutoring, Uncategorized


How prepared is your child for their upcoming exams?

Exams are just around the corner, and this time of the year is notoriously stressful for students. While nerves can be helpful, too much stress can be detrimental to your child’s success. 

Over the years, we’ve had lots of first-hand experience guiding students through this stressful time of the year. So, we know the best strategies on how to tackle exam period.

Help your child decrease their stresses this exam period by encouraging them to follow our top 5 tips to ace exams below!

Ditch procrastination

We all procrastinate from time to time. In fact, many of us do it a lot!

But what is procrastination and why do we do it?

Put simply, procrastination is applied anxiety. We procrastinate when we know what we need to do, but we don’t do it. This space, between knowing and doing, is where anxiety about the uncompleted task grows. Here are a couple simple steps to ditch procrastination and move from a place of anxiety to a place of focus:

  • Write down all of your anxious thoughts about study
  • Now take a moment to focus on your intrinsic motivator, whether it be self-growth or a dream job
  • With your intrinsic motivator in mind, spend 10 minutes studying. When doing this task students often exceed their target time as they become absorbed in the task.

Create a study formula

Study is daunting.

Many students find the process of studying very overwhelming and they, therefore, use this as an excuse to avoid studying. To avoid this situation, we suggest encouraging your child to make a study formula. A study formula is basically a simple list of steps that students can make to outline the steps they’re going to take when studying.

After creating a study formula, all students have to do is work through their checklist, which is far less stressful than not knowing where to start. Having a study formula will give students more direction, motivation, and efficiency in their studies.

Test yourself

This one seems like common sense. However, most students study by rereading their textbooks or writing out notes. While these things are good, they aren’t effective.

Think of your brain like a muscle and rereading the book or rewriting notes as the equivalent of doing push-ups on your knees. It can be effective, but it’s going to take much longer to build that muscle.

Instead, studies have shown that testing yourself is a much more effective way of building the “muscle” – your brain. For students, it can be as simple as closing their textbook and seeing if they can explain the information in their own words. Make sure to encourage your child to incorporate testing into all aspects of their study.

Do as many past exams as possible in exam conditions

NCEA examinations are similar between years, so using past exam papers is a great form of studying. Students should try and simulate exam conditions as much as possible because it’s important to “practice like you want to play”, just like the All Blacks.

Completing practice exams under exam conditions is effective because your memory and brain adjusts based on the environment you are in. If students put themselves in an environment where they’re under pressure, their brain will learn to adjust and cope with the extra stress.

Exams are actually less about understanding, and more about applying skills under pressure – much like an athlete. Encourage your child to get training!

Create an exam day strategy

Exam day is always a time of great stress for students. This often causes students to under-perform in their exams. Encourage your child to create an exam day plan to reduce exam anxiety. The plan should include things like how they’re going to decide what questions to do first and how they’re going to make sure that they’re going to complete the exam within the allotted time.

Students should ask themselves:

How am I going to make sure I check my answers for any mistakes?” and “What preparation should I do on the day of the exam or the night before to make sure that I’m not stressed?”

It’s vital that students have a routine to sit their exams to get them into the ‘zone’ and reduce pre-exam stress.

Support your child through the stress of exam period by encouraging them to follow our top 5 tips to ace exams!


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