5 Top Tips for Students Preparing for External Exams

For Secondary students, it can feel like the rainy days of April bring along a sign: exams are coming! External exams for the International General Certificate of Education (IGCSE) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) are a culmination of our academic journeys in Year 11 and Year 13 respectively. Everything that we have learned over the course of two years is concluded with these tests. In order to prepare well in advance for the exams to keep stress at bay, here are a few study tips that I hope will be helpful:

1. Create a Chronological Revision Plan

Revise for your subjects based on the time you are taking them. The exams for both IB and IGCSE span over about one-and-a-half months. Different subjects will occur at different times and you may have weeks in between subjects to revise. You should, therefore, plan accordingly to maximise the revision time you have for each exam.

2. Know your Strengths and Weaknesses

Everyone takes a multitude of subjects, so revision time is limited. You should differentiate between subjects that you are proficient at and subjects that you might struggle with. This will help you prioritise your

3. Understand the Tests and Marking Schemes

Different subjects have different nooks and crannies that you should know about when revising. These might seem unorthodox or unusual, but they are how you are going to be marked. Ensure that you know the requirements and abide by them when taking the tests.

4. Practise by Using Past Papers

Past papers allow you to see the format of exam questions. Some formats occur so often that you will most likely see them in your actual exam, with just a few variables changed. This is probably the second most important tip I can give you!

5. Keep your Mental Health in Check

At the end of the day, we’re all still Secondary students going through the first phases in our lives. You should not prioritise grades and academia over your mental health, even during the exam period. Ensure that you’re keeping your stress levels manageable, that you’re sleeping well, and learn how to take regular breaks to help take your mind off the exams once in a while. This will make a difference in your overall wellbeing, which is sure to have a positive effect on your exam results.

By Tiger, Year 13, YCIS Puxi Secondary  

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