Preparing for Exams

Matric learners will soon be stepping into exam venues around the country and I am sure some nerves are setting in. To help you relax and to stay focussed when entering the exam room, try these 5 tips:

#1 Be prepared for each paper

  • You will always feel more relaxed and ready when you are confident about your work and prepared for writing the exam.
  • In this last stretch, go through as many old exam papers and memos as you can and ask teachers and/or tutors for advice about the sections that you still find challenging.

#2 Make the best of the night and morning before

  • Get everything you need for your exam ready the night before – make sure your pencils are sharp and that you have an extra pen or two, calculator, dictionary, tissues, something warm to wear, something small to snack on, a bottle of water and any documentation (such as your ID or exam number) that you might need.
  • Wear a watch if you have one.
  • Eat a good breakfast – your brain needs the energy and you do not want to be distracted by a rumbling stomach.
  • Make sure you know what time your exam is starting and give yourself enough time to get there.

#3 Settle yourself in at the exam venue

  • Sit down, orientate yourself and pack out everything you need.
  • Relax yourself, focus and stay positive – do not speak to other exam writers or listen to their last minute questions (especially avoid those who seem anxious!)
  • Carefully read through the exam instructions to make sure you understand what is expected from you.
  • Remember to complete all your personal details on the answer sheet.
  • Calculate how much time you have and how much time should be spent on each question.
  • If you are allowed to do so, use extra paper or the back of the answer booklet to make notes of important things you want to remember later on.

#4 Pay attention to how you answer your questions

  • Carefully read through each question.
  • Determine what is expected from you and take note of any key words.
  • If the question seems familiar (from an old exam paper), pay close attention to the wording to make sure that you do not miss something new.
  • Focus on the sections you know well.

#5 Relax and re-focus if you start to panic

  • Make use of relaxation techniques to calm yourself down.
  • Use questions like who? when? what? where? how? to help you focus.
  • Don’t try too hard to remember! you can always leave a space, go on to the work you know, and come back to the question later.
  • If your mind is blank, take a piece of paper and write down any words or phrases that have something to do with the question or topic – this will help to prompt your memory.
  • Good luck with your exams!! And remember to just do your best.
Source: Amanda van der Vyver, CK Educational Psychologist