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This article was originally written by a Kip McGrath colleague who runs the Luton and Steven age Centers and we loved it so much we wanted to share.

Your son or daughter  has just got a mock exam/test result and has failed miserably.  He/she did lots of revision, but said he/she had a complete blank when faced with the paper.

So what went wrong?  Here are the top reasons why students fail Exams

1. Not Enough Revision

First things first, revision does not = reading.  Revising is an active process. Students really don’t understand what they are reading.

They should know what every word means, be able to analyse every diagram, bullet point, graph and date.

Mind maps, mnemonics, highlighting key point and notes summaries on cards are all useful ways of doing active revision.

2. Starting Revision Too Late

The path to success lies in good planning.  Start revision early. Little and often is better than a mad panic at the end.

Revision should be started so that there is enough time to understand, learn, memorise and to practice past papers.  Students should create a revision timetable and stick to it.

This will ensure that all the topics are covered and not just the ones the student likes.  They should go over work a day later and then a week  later.

3. Stressing Too Much

Students can put themselves under unnecessary pressure during exam season.  Parents can relieve the burden by making sure that they are eating regularly and getting enough sleep.

Tiredness makes revision ineffective and affects performance in exams.  Revise for maximum 30 minute intervals and then have a 5 minute break.

The exam should be treated as a normal school or college day, other than that they are doing an exam. Follow your normal routine will help you relax.

4. Running out of time in the exam

Students should answer all the easy questions first and then go back to the ones they have missed out.  They should spend more time on high mark questions and only answer questions they are asked to.

5. Misreading the question

It’s one of the first lessons our teachers teach us, but it is one of the most common reasons why students fail.  They did not understand what was required from the examiners and therefore didn’t answer the question.

Students should get hold of a stash of past papers and make sure they also have the answers to check their understanding.  Then familiarise themselves with exam questions and the language used and always ask themselves “What do they want me to write?”.

They will be less likely to misunderstand if they have come across similar questions before and being confronted with an exam paper won’t freak them out.

If your child is about to start an exam year at school, please contact Kip McGrath to discuss additional tuition in exam preparation including study techniques.


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