Taking on Exams? Let's Talk Tactics

ncs 3/05/2019

Not everyone likes exam season, but this blog is all about making it (hopefully) a bit easier for you. From revising with friends to furnishing your very own mind palace, we want to arm you with all the tools you’ll need to tackle exams and come out winning.

Create acronyms and mnemonics

Typically, the brain remembers things that are a bit more unusual, so have fun when you’re creating these. The acronyms you make don’t have to be existing words, they just have to be memorable! The weirder the better. 

Work out how you learn

We all process information differently – you need to work out what’s best for you. You’ll probably find it easier to take in information either by looking (visual learner), listening (auditory learner) or physically doing something (kinesthetic learner). This is known as the ‘VAK model’. Essentially, it’s really important to identify which one you are and to use this to your advantage when revising.

Recruit a study buddy

Ok, as long as they’re not a distraction, having a mate to spur you on will always be helpful. Chances are, despite sitting in the same lessons, you might have a stronger understanding of some topics, while your mate might’ve mastered a theory you didn’t get at all. You can test each other too!

Time on your side? Check out the ‘spacing effect’

So believe it or not, the spacing effect should allow you to revise less, but achieve more. Yeah, thought that’d get your attention! It’s all about the importance of forgetting and how this helps us to remember things in the long run. This guy explains it nicely:

Teach someone else 

Think you’ve got it? Become the master of your topic by trying to teach a friend, parent or even your dog! It’s a great way to test how well you know your stuff and reinforce it. 

Write a tale that tells all

If you like creative writing, this is another fun way to pull together the stats and facts you’re struggling with. Weave them into a few unforgettable plot twists and you should have no trouble recalling them when the test paper’s in front of you. 

Build a ‘Mind Palace’

It works for Sherlock Holmes and Derren Brown, why not make it work for you? Pick a place you know inside out and dedicate a room to each subject you’re revising for. Fill each room with different facts by placing meaningful imaginary props. To make it memorable, you have to make these unique to you and as absurd as possible! 

It’s a fun tactic that just might help you remember the periodic table or a historical timeline way past your exams. Want to try it? Check this out:

Make a song and dance about it 

The trick to a lot of these tactics is learning how to remember things through association. Depending on what type of learner you are, (auditory and kinesthetic learners, we’re looking at you) putting your revision material to melodies or even simple dance moves could help you too!

And finally, use flashcards 

For the visual learners out there, you can’t go wrong with the classic, flashcards. These will help you recall important snippets of info, and if you use them alongside the ‘spaced repetition’ technique, you’ll be storming it through your exam papers.

Good luck, everyone. We hope at least one of these tactics helps you get through this manic and stressful time. And remember, TAKE BREAKS!