With the Final Year Exams just round the corner, those who are not prepared may be desperate to find out ways to tackle the papers in the last minute.
I can understand how you are feeling.
With an effective study strategy, you should be able to score in your exam. Having said that, I am someone who have seldom done regular revisions in my studies, but I rarely miss lessons, and I do pay attention in class. I do work hard during my exam week and I try my best to finish all my revisions before the exam papers.
How I Scored In My Exams
In my ‘O’ Levels, I obtained satisfactory results with 4 As, 2 Bs and 2 Cs (C for my Malay Language and Biology – For most part of my Sec 4 & 5 years, we only had temporary teachers for Bio). I have to state that I was in another country with different schooling requirements where Malay is compulsory and I had no Literature to deal with, BUT the Cambridge GCE O Level exams are the same as what we have in Singapore.
In my Engineering Diploma at a local Polytechnic, I graduated with Merit being in the top 5% of my cohort.
In my Degree Course, I scored mostly Distinctions.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in to the five methods I have applied to excel in exams.
TIP # 1 – PLAN WELL 
So, you are out of time, literally.
How are you supposed to delegate enough time to revise a whole year of 8 to 9 subjects and with so much notes to take and read?
Some of you already know this, but it is wise to have your schedule planned out in alignment with your exam timetable.
Say for instance, you have one paper on alternate days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday), sometimes two exams on each day or one paper after another the following day.  What I found useful and I learned this from my tuition teacher was to tackle the big subjects first, and those that are typically the last papers.
An example,
  • If you have major subjects lined up one against another, it is best to work on the latter subject first so you will have covered most of the topics beforehand. A day or two before the subject paper, you will just need to recap and cover those that were not studied before. 
  • Some subjects need more practice than memorizing or analysing. Be sure to allocate enough time and materials (scrap papers, pen/ pencils, erasers / correction tapes) for practice. The most frustrating moments are when you waste time searching for materials… 
  • Some need more understanding that just written notes, more reading than writing.
TIP # 2 – UNDERSTAND
As mentioned above, some subjects need more practice than others, while others need more understanding than writing and memorizing.
I find highlighting, writing notes down on separate papers and trying to memorize the most time consuming method of revision.
What I learned to do was to break down into parts, understand what topics talk about what, and how they are related. 
Then, make further break down parts of each topic and here comes the practical steps
(1) READ first to get the whole picture.
(2) READ AGAIN to understand in details.
(3) UNDERSTAND what the content means and the FLOW
For instance, if we are reading about system, read twice to get the idea. By the third time you are reading it, you should able to understand the sequence or flow of system already.
(4) VISUALIZE how the sequence flow.
(5) CLOSE the book / notes and RUN through in your head once.
(6) REPEAT and TEST yourself.
(7) Move on to next, or repeat until you are well-versed.
If you realize, MEMORIZING is similar to above steps, except you skipped Steps 2 – 4 which are the most important steps.
As soon as you understand the flow, you will have no problem linking to the next point.
TIP # 3 – TAKE CARE OF YOUR WELL-BEING
It means taking care of your health, eat well and sleep enough to maintain an optimum focus on your studies.
Nothing feels worse than having cold or flu and sneezing away, not being able to concentrate at the most crucial time of your school year.
A funny yet scary experience I had was on my orals during my O Levels. We had two Orals (in English and Malay). Not knowing that I should take care of my voice, I did not pay attention to what I was eating and ended up in a Sore Throat out of the blue. Imagine how freaked out I was at that time and I really struggled with my voice. Coming to think of it, that was the only time I lost my voice having a bad throat. Talk about your worst fears coming true! Luckily, I passed. Up till today, I still don’t know how I did it, but I passed my Orals.
Don’t take that risk.
TIP # 4 – GET ENOUGH REST DURING REVISIONS
All the coffees, snacks, constant sitting and midnight oils are taking a toll on your body. You will feel restless and agitated for sitting down too long, regardless of where you prefer to study (Some prefer studying by themselves at home where they can focus better, or in places like fast food restaurants where there are some noise as some people cannot handle silence).
But to some people like me, studying outside are distractions.
So, every hour or so, try to break away from the textbooks and colourful notes that you have jotted and highlighted.
You can only stuff so much at one time.
Let your eyes wander, or simply get out for some fresh air. 
You will come back to the revision with more focus and able to absorb more. 
TIP # 5 – DO YOUR BEST & LET IT BE
There are only so much you can do in the final hour.
There were times when I just kept studying and studying even to the last minute before entering the exam room. And I panicked, and almost cried out of frustrations and anger at myself for not being prepared.
Then again, I have tried my best and I made a note that I would never be not-prepared again because I hated that feeling.
At the end, you just have to close your book and decide that you will do your best with what you have.
As much as possible, do prepare in advance. Paying attention in class helps a lot as well, since the more engaged you get in class, the more the content will stay in your mind.
For now, try the above methods and see if it works.
All the best!
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