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Help! My child struggles to do well on exams

The end of Term 1 is drawing near so it's no surprise that many students are about to start or have already started exams.  For many students, the thought of sitting an exam induces high levels of stress and many students struggle to perform well on tests even if they may be understanding content well in class.

 

Doing well in class and being able to replicate these results in a timed, high-pressure scenario are two completely different skill sets.  Many students don't spend adequate time developing exam strategies and revising in a manner that will help them excel come test time.  Our expert tutors see this time and time again with new students they work with.  However, the great news is that you can easily improve your test results with the right strategies and lots of practice.  We've noted some of our top suggestions below to help you or your child ace that next exam!


 

1._Do you ever practice questions under timed conditions?


One of the most common reasons students struggle with exams especially if they are coping well in class is that exams are completed in much higher pressure conditions which can cause students to stress and make silly errors or forget what they've learnt.  Practicing questions under timed conditions and trying to simulate some of the pressure that exams bring can help students feel more confident when it comes to the real thing

 

2. Are you practicing the right questions?


Exams are tricky as they will assess questions you may never have seen before in that particular format and especially towards the end of the exam, there are likely to be some complex, multi-step questions that require you to piece together information from multiple different topics.  It's super important that when you are revising, you are actively seeking out opportunities to practice the challenging questions that stump you and not just sticking to your comfort zone.  It's also super helpful to have strategies in place of how you can partially complete questions that you may not be able to fully solve.  You can often get part marks for doing this instead of just leaving the question blank which will give you 0 marks!

 

3. When revising, are you practicing questions under conditions where you are able to get no external help or reference other materials?


Obviously, in an exam you have to complete questions without any help from anyone else and you can't refer back to your notes to help jog your memory.  It's therefore very important that wherever possible, you are practicing completing questions without using class notes or other examples to help you out. 

 

4. Have you tried using different relaxation or focus exercises?


If you are someone who feels stressed or anxious when completing an exam, you might want to consider incorporating strategies that help you feel calmer and more focused.  For example, you might develop an exam routine where you spend 30 seconds after you sit down simply closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths.  You could even try box breathing.  This is a relaxation technique that involves breathing in deeply for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 4 seconds, exhaling for 4 seconds, holding your breath again for 4 seconds and repeating a few times until you feel calmer.

 

5. Do you know how to check your work properly?


Many students lose marks on exams as the result of silly errors.  You may be someone who rushes through your test paper too quickly because you are worried about getting all the questions done on time.  It's really important to check your answers as you are going and once you finish.  If you have spare time left over, never leave an exam early!  Use this time to double, triple-check your work.  One strategy that works well if you don't have enough time to thoroughly check every answer at the end is to put a little star as you are working through the paper next to questions you are not 100% certain about or think has a higher chance of making an accidental error.  You can then come back to these questions first so you are only missing out on checking answers you are very confident in if you don't have enough time at the end to check the entire exam

 

6. Do you take time in the exam to read questions thoroughly first and highlight/jot down key info?


Following on from the above point, when you are feeling the pressure of an exam, it is SO EASY to make silly errors or misinterpret what a question is asking.  Whilst you may be tempted to jump right into doing questions the second you are given the green light to start, it can be very beneficial to take a few minutes to read the questions properly first and highlight and jot down any key info.  This will help you to thoroughly understand what you are being asked to do before starting to avoid wasting time going down the wrong path.

 

 

If you want more support, our amazing tutors are here to help.  Many of them are current uni students and have recently graduated themselves so they understand first-hand how tricky exams can be and have some fantastic strategies they can teach you to ace your next test!  Contact our team on 1300 466 665 or info@studymonkey.com.au to inquire further about booking in one of our tutors.

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