ICE 4 Life

Preparing for Tests and Exams

Do you get stressed-out at the mention of the word ‘Test’ or ‘Exam’? Here are some great tips for helping you to do your very best.

Ask your teacher for a copy of an old test to practice on. Apart from making your teacher think that you actually like the subject and maybe scoring a few points in her good book, you will actually be doing yourself a favour. Most tests are re-used time and time again so chances are you will get a few repeat questions. And it will give you an idea of what to expect in a test.

Revise the easy way – Take a blank book and head it up ‘Revision subjects’. Take a few pages for each subject and write down everything you learn along the way so when it comes to revision, you can just grab your trusty revision book and revise from that rather than going through lots of books. As long as you have kept up to date you should have all the important facts.

Use the web. There are some great sites on the Internet that can help with revision, fact finding and assignments for homework.

Prepare yourself mentally by saying ‘All the information I need is within me… I have learnt my subject and I will do my best in the exam’.

Tell yourself you are ready… revise your subject daily, think positively… say things like ‘I can do this’ and ‘I will do my best, and my best is always good enough’.

When you are studying or writing a paper, don’t be afraid to take a break and give your brain a rest for a while. Listen to your favourite music, go for a walk, call up a friend for a chat, Even if the break is only five minutes of daydreaming, do it. Studying with small breaks in-between is much better than studying for long periods of time without a break.

On the exam day, plan to get to the exam 10 minutes early, find a comfortable seat, and take a minute to relax. Try closing your eyes and having 3 deep breaths … in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will help to return your body back to its natural state of calm.

Don’t try ‘last minute revision’ before the exam; your time is much better spent taking a few deep breaths and getting into the proper mindset.

Study tips to help revise for your exams

If you revise something tonight, by this time tomorrow you’ll have forgotten at least some of it. So take another quick look at it tomorrow, to refresh your memory. This doesn’t take long to do, and is usually quite comforting – you feel good because you find that the stuff looks familiar each time you look at it; because it is quick you can easily fit it in with all your other revision.

Look, cover, write, check!

This is probably the way that you learned spellings in Primary school.

1) Read it.
2) Hide it away
3) Write it out
4) Check to see if you got it right.

This technique is useful and really works. And when repeated… the revision is reinforced!

Remembering labeled diagrams

Draw a copy of the diagram – but without the labels.
Then try to fill in the labels from memory.


Go through your books high-lighting key words and key ideas. Not only does this make it easier to revise later, but the act of scanning through your books looking for the key stuff helps you to remember it.

Tip for revising

  • Speed read everything you have.
  • Leave it for an hour or two then read it again but this time a bit more thoroughly.
  • Leave it for another hour then go back and make notes on all the really important bits like key words and phrases.
  • Then leave it for a day and go back to it. Separate the topics and spend a couple of days on each one.

Exam problem-thoughts - REFRAMING

Sometimes we can get into negative thought patterns about exams which leave us thinking or feeling that we can not possibly do well in exams.

Some thoughts people have about exams are…

'I try to revise for my exam but I can’t remember what I’ve learnt'.
'When I look at the question, my mind just goes blank'.
'I always seem to run out of time and never get all the questions done'.

It really helps if you think in a positive frame of mind. Instead of putting yourself down, try thinking nice thoughts, thinking and feeling that you are doing your best. A positive mindset is always helpful.

Here are some thoughts people have about exams which have been reframed…

‘I try to revise for my exam but I can’t remember what I’ve learnt’

Reframe... ?

'I can learn when I feel relaxed. My unconscious mind has all the information I need stored in there. I just need to relax and it will come to me'.

‘When I look at the question, my mind goes blank’

Reframe... ?

I know the answer to this. It is in my mind somewhere and I can access it easily.

‘I always seem to run out of time and never get all the questions done’

Reframe... ?

I have plenty of time and I am doing my best. I can take deep breaths and think about the question and if I get stuck, can move on and come back to it later.

When we think negatively it may make us feel physically uncomfortable in our body. It is human nature to put ourselves down and think that we are not as good as the next person but it is a simple fact that you ‘feel what you think’.

During a test or exam, you are more likely to do well if you say to yourself "I am doing my best".

Ways to prepare for an exam so that you feel physically well:

Get a good nights sleep
Have a good breakfast
Drink plenty and take some water with you
Practice some relaxation techniques before you start
Take some deep breaths to oxygenate your brain and to calm yourself