Excel In Exams Blog

Exams: How to cope, one day at a time…

Posted on 23/05/16, filed under A Level, Exam Nerves, Exam Tips, GCSE, Goal Setting, Revision Tips, Stress & Anxiety, Teenagers | No Comments

Well, most of you will have started your exams. Some of you may even be close to finishing!  However, what you want to do is to pace yourself. 

I have been advising students to have a detailed preparation plan for the entire exam period, but then to pull right back and focus on each day at a time.  There is no point looking too far up at the mountain and feeling overwhelmed; instead, take reassurance from the fact that you have a plan for each and every exam and then re-focus back on the preparation for that day – if not for that half-day.  We build resilience when we make small, short term goals – daily goals that keep our attention on the process of preparation and recovery for that day, rather than sliding into a panic.  “Everything is do-able” is my mantra for this time of the year – and ensure that you have a plan that enables that to happen!

Exercise and effective recovery is, as ever, crucial to staying fresh and energised, along with keeping an eye on your eating and drinking habits.  A dehydrated brain isn’t going to help you – nor is a brain that is feeling the after-effects of a sugar high.  Steady, quality nutrition throughout the day with plenty of water, especially if you happen to indulge in the odd coffee to help your concentration.  Then, get to bed at a reasonable hour for some decent sleep, reflecting on your achievements that day – thinking about what you have learned (not what you have yet to learn!) and how good it feels to know it.

Half-term is not going to be a holiday for many of you.  Again, plan out your time and allocate at least a full day per week to absolutely no study at all – as well as scheduling in your exercise and recovery for each day.  Hopefully, you will have done your summary posters and notes for your post half-term exams a while ago, so half-term is going to be about revisiting those posters; learning the information; doing practice questions and then practice papers, to ensure you have your timings right.  Remember that the Examiners’ Reports can be pretty handy too.  You can find those on the relevant exam board website.

You’re there!  This is what all the anticipation and preparation is for, so give yourself the best possible chance of achieving your best possible grades.  Keep up your high performance routine of study, exercise, good nutrition and sleep; stay focussed on one day at a time and give yourself the reassurance that you have a plan in place for the rest of the days.  Good luck, happy hunting and see you on the other side!

Tick, tick, tick of the clock…

Posted on 14/04/16, filed under News | No Comments

The Easter holidays are almost at an end – and ended already for some of you. We are now at the pointy end of preparation for your upcoming exams and you want to keep up your energy, attitude and belief that YOU CAN DO IT!!!

You had a study plan for the holidays that hopefully was useful for you. Now, you need to put together a plan for the last days leading up to the exams. Focus now needs to be on:

1. Reviewing your summary posters before…

2. Sitting and completing a practice paper in timed conditions, so you can train yourself in how to allocate time to each question/section. Remember to do these papers CLOSED BOOK!

3. Mark the paper yourself using the mark scheme from your exam board, paying attention to the common themes that emerge for different question types. What are the examiners looking for?

4. Check through the Examiners’ Reports to further consolidate your knowledge of what you need to be highlighting. These are also on your exam board website

5. Note any areas of knowledge that are still a little flaky and return to your notes to sharpen up and make sure you understand the content and can apply it to different question types

Finally, after a decent session, close up those books and go and chill. Keep up some decent cardio-vascular exercise (brisk walking/jogging/football/basketball etc) to stop your brain from turning to mush. Chat to friends, but remember not to get into that spiral negative conversation that “Exams are awful – I’m definitely going to fail!” The words that you speak are very powerful and have a profound effect on your brain. Instead, try speaking positively about your preparation and determination – and if you have worries, then be specific about them, rather than blanketing everything with disaster! If there are things that you’re worrying about, make a note of them and put them into your plan to attack the next day.

Head to bed at a decent time and allow yourself to sleep, knowing that you have done a solid prep session and that you are ON TRACK TO SUCCEED!!!

Over Easter – Pace yourself for exams

Posted on 23/03/16, filed under News | No Comments

GCSE and ‘ A’ Level students prepare!

As you prepare for your summer exams, there are some top revision tips for all students to ensure that you keep stress in check and to prepare yourself – mentally and physically for the time ahead.

The Easter holiday is perfect power study time – but you also need to relax and stay positive as you’re only part-way through the journey. You need a work-chill balance in order to still be in a peak position for exams – see below.

It’s important to understand that scheduling a study session for 45 mins does NOT mean 15 mins of faffing and 30 mins of work.  If it takes 15 mins to get into something, then it’s 45 mins from that point.

Easter study preparation

  • Make sure you understand ALL topics – fully – if not, use a tutor for any final tweaks.
  • Learn summary posters and do past papers with self-marking – using mark schemes (where possible – as there are new exams this year)
  • Make a revision schedule – if you need help, check my Smartivate ™ programme https://www.excelinexams.com/course.htm
  • Down-time is just as important as study time – have at least one day completely free – for every five days of studying. 
  • It’s important to learn ways to manage any anxiety and relationships at home and school – see more below.
  • Get active and exercising – this will help your learning!

Your mind

Help your mind be healthy – use relaxation techniques – helpful if you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Here’s one I like:


There’s lots of free resources on my website to help you if you’re feeling stressed or need a little support http://www.excelinexams.com/

Meet up with ‘energy pumps’ – friends who give us a boost and make us feel positive and energised.

Your body

There is a proven link between exercise and mental wellbeing – go for a walk – take your dog out or a neighbour’s. Borrow a bike. Put some tunes on and go jogging – your brain will thank you!

Eat healthily – avoid chocolate and unhealthy snacks, eat a protein packed, balanced diet that will keep you going for longer.

Make sure you get enough sleep – most teenagers need 8-10 hours a day – and the sleep before midnight is thought to be the most beneficial.

Have a fantastic Easter!

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