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How to Make It Through Exam Season Part 2: Students

Friday, February 22, 2019

How to Make It Through Exam Season Part 2: Students

Can you smell the stress and anxiety in the air? It can only mean one thing: exam season!

Hopefully, you and your students are in a good place about the oncoming weeks. Naturally, there's a lot of pressure during this time, everyone wants to do their best, and as teachers, we want to see our students happy and succeeding in life (have you seen our guide for teachers during exams?).

Not only do students put pressure on themselves because there’s an A-Level, college or university course that they want to get onto, they also want to make their parents and teachers proud, and many will be getting added pressure from home too.

Take a look at our guide for how to best support your students throughout their exams. We’ll be covering revision techniques, student FAQs such as ‘what if I fail?’ and much, much more!

Ways You Can Be There for Your Students

The fundamental thing is to remain calm, positive, and have faith in your students, being careful not to apply too much pressure.

A member of the SupplyNow Team (we’ll let you into a secret, she’s writing this blog), was really struggling with physics and consistently getting low grades.

One day, she received an email from her physics teacher saying she was being put on ‘gifted and talented’. This gave her such a boost in confidence that she went from achieving Ds to Bs in her final exams.

And guess what? It turned out she wasn’t on gifted and talented for physics after all (which makes sense!), but for music - the physics teacher was just in charge of running it!

The point being, that simple change of thinking, where she believed someone had faith in her, completely changed her mentality towards the subject and then, in turn, her grade.

It’s also great to open up about your exam experience and how you've handled stressful situations. Explain how you managed to get through it and show your students that they're not alone in feeling the way they do.

Other things you can do include:

  • Lunch clubs
  • Revision sessions
  • The reassurance you can be contacted by email
  • Help to create a realistic revision timetable
  • Advise on the areas you think they should focus on most (this may change from student to student)
  • The Teaching Times has some great advice for supporting students with dyslexia in the run-up to exams

Revision Techniques

Everyone learns differently, and with the internet the way it is now, we have access to more revision methods than ever before, which is amazing!

Options to share with your students include:

  • Flashcards
  • Mind maps
  • Create advice guides and questions for each other
  • YouTube: CrashCourse covers a variety of subjects and EconplusDal is great for economics.
  • Apps: Quizlet will question you on flashcards you’ve made and create games around them. There’s also Snaprevise that offers ‘precise and engaging’ videos.
  • Write a revision rap!
  • Use voice notes, instead of written notes. You could also suggest different people read different topics,
  • Past papers
  • Quiz friends
  • Stick post-its notes in frequently visited places, e.g. bathroom cabinet for when brushing teeth.
  • REPEAT. Advise your students to go over topics multiple times as it helps to imprint the information on the mind.

Student FAQs

What if I can’t remember everything?

Remembering EVERYTHING would be near enough impossible. However, there are ways to improve your memory and help revision sink in. For example, rather than simply reading revision notes, put them into practice by writing mock essays and answering questions around the subject. Alternatively, get family and friends to quiz you out loud. The app 'Quizlet' is also fantastic on this front, as it creates questions and games based on your notes.

Taking breaks is extremely important for the information you’ve revised to digest. Napping is also supposed to be effective at helping revision to sink in.

Should I prioritise revision or sleep?

Both are extremely important. However, as we have mentioned above, sleep and rest do help with your memory. Additionally, if you work when you’re tired, you often find yourself getting distracted more and even falling asleep. Therefore, you’re typically not as productive compared to if you were rested, alert and doing shorter bursts of revision.

Advise students to aim for the magic 7-8 hours sleep; this still allows plenty of time for revision throughout the day.

What types of food will fuel me best?

The likes of seeds, nuts (especially walnuts), oily fish, avocado, blueberries, celery, leafy greens and dark chocolate are all fantastic for memory because they contain ingredients like omega-3, B vitamins and antioxidants.

What if I fail?

During this time, because many pupils don’t know any different, it’s easy to feel like if you fail at this hurdle, that’s it. You’re a failure for life and never going to get where you want to be. As not only teachers but adults who are more experienced people in life, we know this isn’t true.

We all probably know multiple people who didn’t do well in exams, purely because that’s not a way of thinking that suits them, who have gone on to do amazing things. Sir Richard Branson's a perfect example; most people wouldn't even know he has dyslexia.

Now, we’re not saying to encourage your students not to care about exams; however, if there is someone you know who is going to find them especially tough, they may need that extra encouragement.

Success looks different for everyone. Maybe they don't get high grades now but will go onto achieve great things elsewhere. Despite the way things feel now, life does not revolve around exams.

Week Before/During Exams

During this time, all you can do is continue to be there for your students and answer any questions they have. The bulk of your work has been done at this stage, so it’s time to let go and trust you’ve done enough.

For your students, as we mentioned at the start, the big thing is to see that you have faith in them, are calm, confident and that they have options whatever happens.

Results Day

You may not realise, but attending results day means the world to your students. You've been with them throughout the whole process and they'll want to share their news with you - good or bad. So if you can, be there!

Good luck to you and your students in the oncoming months! If you have any additional advice to share, please add a comment below – we’d love to see.

Support Lines and Other Useful Pages

How to Make It Through Exam Season Part 1: Teachers

10 Motivational Quotes to Get You to the End of Term


Student Minds: Exam Stress

TES: How to support young people’s mental health during exams, results and beyond 


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