The 13+ exam can be a stressful process for students but, if you prepare well for both revision and the exam itself, it can make the process a lot smoother.
There are several everyday things you can do that make a real difference to the quality of revision. Exercise improves oxygen flow to the brain so making sure you are active prior to revision is really beneficial. Similarly, eating healthily makes sure that you are awake and alert and ready to revise, rather than feeling sluggish and lethargic. There is also a large amount of research that details the benefits of positive thinking, this can be in the form of mindfulness or meditation, or simply just making a conscious effort to focus on the things that you do know rather than the things that you don’t. This also helps you to stay calm, which in itself improves performance. It is important to sleep lots as well, your brain continues to process all the information you have learned during the day as you sleep. Furthermore, the more awake and alert you are, the keener you will be for revision the following day.
There are some things that you can do whilst revising that will also improve the effectiveness of your work. Perhaps the most important is to take regular breaks. There is no point in revising non-stop for hours on end, you simply won’t be able to focus for this long. Even a five or ten minute break can be extremely restorative and you will return to your revision with new focus. However, your breaks should not be spent reading a book, watching television or playing computer games, this will interfere with your brain processing what you have just learned. Then when you return to your revision it is helpful to review your notes and go back over what you did before your break.
Organisation is also vital. Scheduling your revision will mean you do not have to do too much in one go. You can also give yourself little rewards for completing your revision time. You should also have a designated place for revision. This place should be quiet and free of distractions, it should also have all the materials that you might need close at hand. With regard to the revision itself, make good use of past papers. Getting to know the format of the exam is a must, as well as getting used to answering questions under timed conditions. If there is anything you don’t understand about your revision, ask a teacher, they will always be happy to help.
On exam day you should not have to worry about anything else. Pack your bags and prepare your pencil case the night before. Know exactly where the exam is and at what time. You should also take water to the exam with you as it can improve your mental performance. Make sure that you have a good breakfast as well, you don’t want to be going into the exam hungry. It is also a good idea to bring a watch with you, you don’t want to be worrying that you won’t be able to see the clock.
In the exam itself, read the front of the paper very carefully, make sure you know exactly what is being asked of you. Then read the whole paper through and work out how long you need to spend on each question. Think carefully about each answer before you start writing and don’t be afraid to leave out a question and come back to it at the end if it is especially tricky.
The most important thing is not to worry, if you go into the exam feeling confident and do your best then there is nothing more that could be asked of you.