High School Study Skills


Exams at High School can be daunting. We have compiled a list of tips to help you to prepare for your tests, what to do during writing your papers and what to do after your exams.

Tips to help you before, during after your exams at high school

The lead up to the exam

  • Make sure your notes are complete and seek help for anything you have not understood
  • Begin studying early
  • Minimise background noise; don’t study where there are distractions (like television!)
  • Have everything you need to use for studying before you start
  • Plan 1 hour time slots you will use for study (this includes a ten minute break). During study breaks you need to do things to change your physical and mental activity. Move around to boost your circulation or think about something completely different - and fun - to give your brain a new focus.
  • Identify your best study time - are you a morning or evening person?
  • Prioritise and consider your commitments when setting up a study timetable
  • Start with the subjects you find hardest but make sure you break difficult or 'boring' work into sections with more interesting tasks in between.
  • Don't try to complete a whole subject in one sitting. Sort it section by section.
  • Be 'active' in mental activity! Look specifically to answer the ‘W’ questions as you work - the what, who, where, when, how and why of the topic.
  • If your mind wanders, jot down the distracting thought on a separate piece of paper and carry on
  • Highlight concerns as you work - yellow for a confusing area (this may become clearer as you continue working) and red for something you don’t understand and seek answers or help for this as soon as possible - it’s easier for a teacher to assist you if you have a specific question.

Facing the exam:

  • Read the whole paper through first
  • Look carefully at the directions and highlight the keywords
  • Answer the questions you know well first - this increases confidence and keeps you more relaxed
  • Allocate your time in relation to the marks for each question
  • For essay questions, create a small plan of what you want to say (this can get you marks if you don’t manage to finish the essay)
  • Don’t simply regurgitate everything you know, try to answer the specific question
  • Mark the answers you are unsure of and go back if you have time
  • If you are running out of time and still have a lot to say, jot down the key points as this will gain you some marks
  • Look back at the question to check you did not miss anything out - watch out for multi-part questions, such as “who did… and why …”
  • If you begin to get anxious, put your pen down, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, have some water and start again
  • Ignore what other people are doing in the exam

After the exam

  • Don’t discuss the paper with others
  • Don’t rush to check your answers in a textbook - there’s nothing you can do about it and you’ll only upset yourself
  • Take time to relax and reward yourself before starting more revision
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