Failing to prepare is preparing to fail-A study guide

13 September 2019 | Education

Sheney Mwetako



Learning takes time and coding new information into solid memory is a physical process that does not happen overnight and cramming information is not the answer. You need to build external structures in your brain to help improve your memory. This process requires multiple exposures of the work you need to study. Even though students studied over a long period of time test anxiety can be one of the leading causes for students to fail their exam.

As the exam approaches, make sure you know what to do by familiarizing yourself with the structure of the exam. You can do this by making your study time context-based. Try as many past exam papers as possible. This will, in addition to preparing you for content-related questions, help you familiarise yourself with the layout, format and time needed for the paper. Try replicating the exam as closely as possible by using the same materials and the same amount of time needed. This will help you manage your time better and knowing how questions can be formulated. By doing this recalling information will be much easier because you have a rough overview of the exam.

To be comfortable with your results, you should not only do the practice exams but also try to get feedback on them, so that you know where you went wrong. You can learn from your mistakes and ask the examiner or teacher what is required for you to know when answering certain questions.

Test anxiety can also be the cause for students not performing well in their exam or test. When you feel anxious before writing take out a piece of paper and write down the reason for feeling anxious. This will help to reduce and calm down stress and anxiety levels. The best way to overcome test anxiety, is to think of your exam as another learning opportunity rather than an exam.

When starting your exam always make sure to plan ahead because by planning ahead of time you know how much time is needed for each section. Read each question carefully and pay attention to instruction verbs such as “discuss“, “examine”, “compare“ and “contrast“. Also, be sure to double-check your work to see if you made any silly mistakes.

How well you do does not determine how much you studied; instead, it is determined by the time and effort you put in. Enabling your brain to focus intensively you should give it some time to rest too - this means the amount of rest and sleep you get is vital when it comes to studying. When you planned and scheduled well in advance you should have no problems giving yourself time for breaks while leaving enough hours open for studying and preparing for the exam.

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