From the Counsellor’s Chair

Mrs Good, our School Counsellor and Play Therapist has prepared some useful advice and suggestions for those who are coming up to their public examinations.

‘Revision for public examinations is underway.  This can be a taxing time, more so with thoughts of what is at stake as examination days draw close.  So how can you get the best out of revision and reduce your stress levels around examination time so it’s more manageable?  One key to this lies in preparation.

Get organised

* Remind yourself that you can only do your best.  To help achieve this, reduce some of the other stresses around you to help increase your capacity to manage revision and exams.

* Once you have your examination timetable, confirm when and how you will be examined.

* ‘Clear the decks, ’so you are ready to ‘go.’

* In terms of revision remember to use what works for you: working with another student or in a support group; going over past examination papers; getting family members to ‘test’ you; BBC revision tools; mind maps; flash cards; headings and notes; setting yourself questions and answers on subjects.  Ask teachers, parents or siblings who have gone through the process what worked for them.

* Remind family and friends that you have exams and they may need to be patient with you.  If you need a quiet space and certain times in which not to be disturbed ask those around you to be particularly respectful for the duration of your revision and exams.  If home is too noisy consider a library or somewhere else conducive to studying.

* Prepare your work space, books, note pads, pens, pin board, and any other resources you need.

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Plan a revision timetable and stick to it

* Stick to your revision timetable.  Focus on a topic at a time.

* If not done already, draw up a revision timetable.  Link it to your exam timetable, so you revise subjects in the right order.  It also needs to be realistic and flexible in case of any unexpected events, and  balances your revision with other demands on your time such as meals, sleep, chores, as well as time for relaxing.  It needs to take into account your best time of day for studying.  If it’s useful and possible, mix what you consider dull subjects/topics with more interesting ones.

* Revisit your social diary and see where it fits into the revision timetable.  Go out but don’t cram your social diary so full of dates they eat into revision time.  Once the exams have finished you will have the opportunity to socialise more.  Avoid interrupting your timetable with social networking on computers, mobiles and other technology.

Getting started and remember to focus

* Have a dedicated, comfortable, quiet study area.  Keep it clutter free and organised to avoid distractions.  Try and keep the study area away from where you sleep.  Avoid working on the bed – it’s all too tempting to have a snooze.  Have another study area in mind if you know you will need a change of environment.

* Watch out for those monster temptations: TV; DVDs; mobiles; game consoles; computers; tablets.  Unless you need your computer for research, treat it and other IT as treats.

* Learn to say, ‘No,’ to people who take up your dedicated revision time.  Don’t think of it as being rude or awkward.  It’s a matter of prioritising and sticking to your boundaries to help reduce your stress.  If people have your best interests at heart they will understand.

* Structure is important.  Keep to your revision timetable; only change it if it’s really not working.

* Set yourself a goal for each revision session.  Have a break after each session.  A suggestion is a 10 – 15 minute break every 45 – 60 minutes or thereabouts.  If it is difficult to get started on the day then begin with a subject or topic that is easier and enjoyable but which still fits in with your exam timetable.

* Switching methods of revising can help maintain interest.  For instance, you may wish to recite facts out loud, write summaries, do mind maps, write notes, do questions and answers, go over previous examination papers, or work in support groups.

* Avoid working at least an hour before you go to bed.

* Work in a treat or reward for yourself at the end of the day.

Remember the exams will end soon.  You have the summer holidays to look forward to, and a future ahead of you.’

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