Posted by : Exam Confidence | On : October 10, 2011

By Miranda Banks

Exam preparation hours are usually limited.  Your workload is usually considerable.  Strategy is therefore essential if you are to be as effective as possible.

I work with many school and university students to enhance their exam performance.  Planning out revision time is a key element to gaining confidence with a strong sense of being fully prepared.  When planning, it is good to be as specific as possible with allocation of time to task.  For example, rather than assign “all day Monday” to “Maths”, divide up the day into 40-45 minute blocks and assign blocks of time to specific topics within Maths.  If you’re good with maintaining concentration, then you may be able to push your focus to being effective for two consecutive time blocks before taking a short break.  However, human concentration span tends to start to peter out after 40 minutes – and there’s no point in sitting there reading the same material three times without actually absorbing it.  Give yourself a short (five to ten minute) break where you re-hydrate (water is fine) and think about things other than algorithms or vectors.

If you start this process sufficiently early, you’ll also have the ability to vary subject material throughout the day – perhaps Maths in the morning and Biology in the afternoon.  Brains love variety for refreshment purposes.   Draw up a study schedule with all of this detail and display it in full view.  It will also assure you that you’ll cover all the material as you will have clearly assigned time to each topic, and help to reduce your stress levels as you will have broken up that huge, looming “whole subject” into manageable parts.

After you’ve completed each of your topics within your time blocks, tick them off on your schedule to emphasise that sense of achievement.  Remember, at the end of each day, to relax and unwind effectively – you’ll need to be fully recovered to be top of your game to get back into it tomorrow.

For further information related to our A Level revision and IB revision courses and how they can help you achieve success then please contact us.


Both the  intensive A Level revision Christmas  courses and the IB revision course are run by chief and principal examiners and are thorough and meticulous in their approach. We combine vigorous exam technique training together with highly qualified teachers and chief examiners to administer the lessons.

We are motivated by the potential of each of our students- our results show that students who attend our courses perform better in exams and achieve higher grades.

During the Christmas holiday period we are running London IB revision courses, & A Level revision courses at our London, Bath & West Sussex venues.

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Posted by : Exam Confidence | On : October 7, 2011

by Exam Confidence performance psychologist Miranda Banks

I shall start this comment with the obvious statement that we all learn slightly differently.  However, it should be noted that teenage students are often a species apart.

Exam time is sufficiently stressful without forcing a round peg into a square hole, so it is particularly helpful early on in the school year to fully understand the learning style and preferences of your student.  Simply because, as an adult, you are capable of learning in a specific manner at conventional times, it does not follow that your student will shine in the same way.

Is your student a listener or a watcher?  A doer or a thinker?  Or somewhere in the middle?  Does your student benefit from watching videos and understanding diagrams?  Is your student overwhelmed by the need to read reams of material?  Does your student’s focus fade when listening to instruction?  Does your student feel the need to understand and think things through, or apply the “memorise through repetition” rule?

Many students, in my experience, benefit from feeling that they have a team backing them up – whether that is a supportive teacher who offers additional help or a regular tutor with whom concepts may be discussed.  Isolation in school learning is a frequent and negative experience.  It is also a killer for motivation.  With whom can your student discuss curly topics and feel supported in their learning?

As an addendum, for this comment, I want the raise the issue of scheduling.  Teenage students are rarely at their best before 11am and this is an unsurprising documented piece of research.  However, I find it helpful to ask my students to identify their “power times” for learning and, equally as important, their “stand-by times” for learning.  Although almost impossible to implement a flexible learning schedule at school with set classes, this knowledge is particularly helpful when scheduling study and extra learning away from the classroom.  Apportion rather more challenging or new topics to the power times and use the stand-by times for additional reading or supplementary exercises to consolidate understanding.  Use breaks as appropriate and plan to be effective with fewer working hours for a long time, rather than hit it hard for a short time and fade before the final bell.

Finally, small class, unit-specific, exam board-specific revision courses can help students enormously to consolidate their learning and also offer the flexibility with a small class to recognise and offer different styles of teaching and learning.  The A Level revision courses and IB revision courses offered by Exam Confidence use performance psychology in developing programs to meet the different needs of individual students.  Each A Level revision course and IB revision course includes specific sessions devoted to enhancing motivation and focus, as well as determining the preferred learning methods of the students within the class.  This is why many students reap the benefits from attending their principal examiner-led exam revision courses – to consolidate knowledge, acquire exam technique and enhance motivation and focus through an individual approach.

For more information on Exam Confidence Christmas exam revision courses, please visit www.examconfidence.co.uk.


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