So you need a school away from school to help you pass your exams?

We hope our blog of study tips and helpful advice inspires you to get great pass marks!


1/ Look after your body during this stressful time. Eat healthily, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep. Do not to depend on caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or any other drug to get you through the extended time of revision.  Their effects may run out before you’ve finished.

2/ Take some time out to do some exercise every day. For example go swimming or walk for about 20 minutes to take your mind of studying. Make sure you see daylight and breathe fresh air deep into your lungs. Doing this will relax your body, help keep your mind clear and will also help you sleep.

3/ Make sure that your body clock is in sync with the exam timetable. There is no point in doing all your work late at night if it means that your brain is not alert at 8.45am in the morning when your exam starts. Move your sleeping patterns gradually, so that you are up and at your best when you’re due to sit the exam.

4/ Practice working in three to four hour stints, without comfort breaks of any sort (loo, coffee, going for a smoke etc.) This will get your body used to sitting still and concentrating for this period of time. You may like to consider working on a topic for an hour, maybe two hours and then changing, so that your mind is used to that time frame which may coincide with the first half of the exam.

5/ Don’t overdo it. Quality of study is much better than quantity. Cramming doesn’t usually help either. Aim for eight to ten hours a day (for example 9-12.30, 1.30-5, 6-9), less at weekends. This is is a lot for your mind and body to cope with. Those experienced at doing revision would say this is sensible but to use this time wisely.

6/ Treat yourself from time to time. Read frivolous novels or short stories, watch a soap opera or film, have a long bath. All in the aid of giving your mind a break and keeping it in shape to do the next session.

7/ Organize group revision sessions over coffee or lunch. At the very least, talk to people so you can keep motivated by their input and sharing of ideas and concerns.

8/ Practice writing timed answers. Then return to them the next day and consider how you might have improved on them. It should also help you get your hand writing over long periods into training. Go through past papers and spend three to five minutes per question drawing up a summary of an answer. On the day these summary answers can be fleshed out very quickly as you know the points to be conveyed.

9/ To get the most out of revision seminars, come with prepared questions to help your understanding of areas needing most revision. The tutor can’t give you a summary of the entire course in an hour nor can we tell you the exam questions, so having specific areas of concern detailed will allow you to get the most out of the session.

10/ As well as reading the books and your notes, consider reading other works by the same author as well as secondary material recommended. It might give you a different perspective on the author in question, and a better sense ways to answer more complex questions. You could also consider getting private tutoring by a reputable organisation with a track record of getting results.


1/ Check you know when and where the examinations are being held. Then check again to ensure you have the right time, place and exam room location. Turn up in plenty of time: if you’re late, apart from getting some seriously unhappy comments about you disturbing others, you will also lose time settling down and will need to catch up.

2/ Make sure that you have several pens, a ruler and a watch. The clocks are not always easily visible and supervisors will not necessarily have spare pens. If you are prone to stress headaches, you may wish to carry some pain killers as well.

3/ Take time to read the paper, especially the instructions. Many have done four questions instead of three, because she didn’t read the instructions. Its also just as bad the other way round. Plan your paper, not simply each question.

4/ Come to the examination able to answer at least 50% of your course competently. A broad knowledge will give you more confidence in your answers and make you better able to make choices. Don’t try to spot questions. You may be right in the topic, but the question may be phrased in a way not suited to the answer you have prepared.

5/ The more you drink, the more likely it is that you will need to go to the toilet. Consider whether you are really likely to be dehydrated in three hours and whether you can afford the time to maybe queue.

6/ Time your questions and aim to finish the whole paper. Allow time to check your paper over as well. The examiner can only mark what is there.

7/ Be considerate of your fellow examinees. Take quiet food and wear quiet clothing. I still bear unreasonable animus against a clog-wearer (she dropped one twice and spent the rest of the time swinging it from her foot, just in my peripheral vision) and a serial cruncher of Murray Mints.

8/ If something goes wrong — if you’re ill, if the bus breaks down, or whatever — and can’t get to the examination, telephone the department office as soon as possible, in fact immediately after you have phoned the doctor/police/tutor. Then we can get the paperwork under way, for which we will need evidence (med certs, adviser’s letter, police report).

9/ Once the exam is over, resist the temptation to dissect it. First, your recollections of it will be inaccurate and second, it’s over and you can do nothing more about it. Put away your notes, take back the library books, and move on.

10/ After all the exams are over, be ready for the almighty loss of adrenalin. This takes everyone differently: I cried solidly for three hours the day after I finished. Lay in treats for yourself (chocolate/cashews, chick-flicks/karate movies), make unstressful appointments, spend quality time with your friends: it’ll be the first time you’ve been relaxed with them for several weeks and possibly the last opportunity you’ll have to see them before autumn; perhaps the last opportunity to see them at all, if you’re a finalist. Above all, take time to recover from the experience.

Tips to Boost your Exam Performance

So you’ve come all the way  and tomorrow is finally the moment of truth, the day of the exam. At this stage you have studied almost all that you can study to be 100% ready. You have been planning, revising and studying and so there is little more you can do.

However hard you studied prior to the exams, the most important work is yet to be done. Regardless of how much you have studied, it is possible that your exam performance may not reflect your hard work studying for hours on end. Here are a few tips to maximise your performance on the day of the exam.

Exam Tip #1  Wake up early so that you do not need to rush through having breakfast and getting ready.

Exam Tip #2  Check the venue and time of the exam to make sure that you have not confused the day/time/venue.

Exam Tip #3  Have a balanced breakfast and eat nothing risky. Bananas are always a good option.

Exam Tip #4  Before leaving home, check that you have everything that you will need like ID, stationery, map to the exam venue, pens etc.

Exam Tip #5  Head to the exam with plenty of time. A lot of unexpected events can happen on your way there and you do not want to be late!

Exam Tip #6  If there are people around who are panicking, avoid them. They are not doing you any favour. You need to have a calm mind so meditating in a quiet place is a good idea.

Exam Tip #7  Go to the toilet before the exam starts. Exams can be quite long and there is no time to waste.

Exam Tip #8  Remember to write your name on the exam paper. You would not believe how many people have forgotten to do this basic thing.

Exam Tip #9  Read all the questions carefully before starting and quickly plan how much time to allocate to each.

Exam Tip #10  Start answering the questions that you feel most confident about. There is no need to answer the questions in order.

Exam Tip #11  If your brain freezes, just start writing anything on a question you understand and you will soon start remembering more details.

Exam Tip #12  Don’t spend more time than you planned on a particular question or section. You might run out of time to answer other questions and gain those extra marks your require to pass.  Also,  leave any questions that you are unsure about for completing at the end if you have time.

Exam Tip #13  Don’t be afraid to ask the examiner if you are not clear on any question or aspect of the exam.

Exam Tip #14  Use every minute of the exam and if you have time left, review your answers before handing back the paper. Its surprising the things you see when you do this.

Exam Tip #15  Stay calm, you have done your homework and have the allotted time to get everything out and onto the exam paper!

Writing Tips

Don’t get carried away and overload your writing with too many obvious connectives and contrastive words. If every sentence has two or three such words or expressions, then the writing can seem strained and artificial. Remember, you can try too hard as well as not hard enough.

Write on alternate lines (leaving every second line blank) so that you have space to make changes when checking through your work.

Always credit your sources in academic writing, even when you are referring to ideas rather than actually quoting.


Multiple Choice Tips

Examiners can choose the same letter successively for the correct answer. After three consecutive answers with the same letter, many students may well start to feel confused and worried. Eventually, many candidates will start changing their answers simple because they don’t believe that examiners would have half a dozen of more questions with the same letter one after the other. They can and sometimes do; this is a real test of your comprehension and reduces the possibility of scoring by guessing.

With multiple choice comprehension questions based on a text, a simple trick is to take obvious and prominent words from the text and put them in an incorrect option. Seeing a word or phrase from the text is not enough; these questions are designed to test comprehension not recognition of a word from the passage.

Often, many multi-choice answers will be correct. However, the examiner is looking for the most correct answer! Remember this before just blindly ticking the first box you know is right, as there may be an answer that is more comprehensive and the most correct answer.

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