It’s hard to deny that exams are a crucial part of our learning journey - many may pose the opinion that scribbled answers in a timed paper under pressure is not the most intelligent method of determining the ability of a student. However, they are pretty much unavoidable - from baseline assessments and the 11+, to GCSEs and A levels, exams encourage students to push themselves further and develop core skills such as organisation, time management and independence. This Is Local London:

Many students find that getting started is one of the hardest parts of studying - it takes a lot of energy to put away activities you are doing out of your own will, and sitting down to dedicate your focus onto that one thing you need to get done effectively. As the saying goes: “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” It is the concept of the amount of time you are giving yourself to do something, which will make you stretch the studying that you are doing to fit into that time frame - when in reality, if you focused to begin with you could get your job done in probably half the time due to the time constraint being shorter. In order to get started, it is advised to start with something simple or easy - place that at the top of your todo list and allow yourself to quickly get that done and have the satisfaction of ticking it off - this in turn will motivate you to continue working, as you are now in the flow of it. It is also key to do different activities and take regular breaks to regain your energy and feel rewarded. This Is Local London:

During the years of 9-11, secondary school students study around 10 different subjects for their GCSE exams which typically take place in the summer of year 11. These exams can be overwhelming, stressful and difficult in comparison to studying in the younger years for end of topic tests - it’s this big jump which throws many students off, making them feel unprepared. It is sometimes from those who have experiences, who have gone through the ups and downs of GCSE exams already, that we can take advice from, and try not to make the same mistakes made already in the past by other students. By interviewing a former GCSE student who sat her exams in summer with outstanding results, Vedica Pandya was able to share her experiences and advice for doing well and revising effectively for exams.

-What is one thing you could change about how you prepared yourself for the exams?

“One piece I would give to my younger self is that sometimes it’s okay not to revise everyday. In the lead up to GCSEs I  felt pressured to work every day otherwise I felt guilty, but then I forgot the necessity of taking breaks. Breaks are just as important as revising them, so I wish I scheduled more breaks within my day.”

-Which revision techniques did you find most efficient, and were there any that were not? 

“Revision techniques that worked best for me for most of my subjects were going over condensed notes that I had written, using Seneca and Cognito to consolidate. Then the most important thing that I always tried to do was exam style questions for all my subjects, and past papers. Mind maps were always recommended to me but I  used them as I didn’t find them helpful.”

-When is it best to start revising? How can you avoid cramming?

“I feel like it doesn’t matter when you start revising for GCSEs, you’ll always feel like you started too late. If your exams start in May and you have mocks in December, you should slowly begin to revise from your December mocks, and start thorough revision latest after February half term. Cramming is not always effective but sometimes you can’t spend equal amounts of time on all of your subjects, so laying out a structure  where you have two hour windows on certain subjects can help to fit in things that you forgot to revise for.”

-What was your overall GCSE exam experience like looking back at it now?

 “My overall GCSE experience was positive, with a few ups and downs for certain exams. The pressure is there and there are always going to be those few exams that you feel more nervous for, but you just have to remember to try your hardest as you have multiple exams for each of your subjects so there’s room for error if it happens. After my exams were over I felt incredibly relieved. The repetitiveness of doing exams and then coming home to revise for the next ones can be very overwhelming, so I found it quite hard and sometimes I felt very tired.”

Exam season is tough, but it’s about getting organised - whether that be using online tools such as Todoist, or making timetables on paper to ensure you make the most of your time and revise to the best of your ability to get the grades you deserve - although they do not define you! Procrastination can be a big enemy, so keep distractions out of sight, train your mind, and don’t delay working on subjects that you dislike and find more difficult!