Ok, so you’ve received your exam timetable and you realise you’ve got 2 exams on the same day. Unfortunate, but it can happen. I am going to explore how to study for two exams on the same day. In my experience, science exams were notoriously within a day of each other. Not your ideal situation but nothing that can’t be managed. This article will outline the sorts of strategies you can use to prepare for the exams that are scheduled uncomfortably close together. The same rules apply as with revising for one subject (mind maps, doing past papers etc) but with a few extra.
- 1. Start revising early!
Typically, you will get your exam timetable well in advance of your exams. Highlight these dates in a personal calendar so you can process this information visually. Draw up a revision plan and stick to it. Remember, it is advisable to start revising a minimum of 3 weeks in advance, and perhaps more if you find a certain subject harder than the rest. Don’t panic if you see 2 exams on the same day.
- 2. Identify the topics within a subject you struggle with. Do this for both subjects.
It is often the case that not all topics are tested in an exam. For example, you might be great with acids and alkalis but struggle with chemical bonding. To cover your back, you need to prioritise the topics you are not so good at. This means, walking into the exam, you will feel that there is nothing unfamiliar the examiners can throw at you. Draw up a list of topics for both subjects.
- 3. Alternate revision between the 2 subjects.
It’s very tempting to revise what you’re good at and you will inevitably be drawn more to one subject. It is essential to revise both subjects as thoroughly as possible. The way I did it was to revise Biology, my stronger subject in the morning (9am until 12pm) and Physics in the afternoon (2pm until 5pm) because personally, I feel more awake and alert as the day goes on. So I’d get cracking nice and early with something I knew wouldn’t tire me out for the rest of the day. But this is personal to everyone and I encourage you to adopt a strategy that suits you best. However, it is advisable to spend a minimum of 2 hours on a subject before moving onto another. If you decide to change subjects more quickly, every half hour say, you will find you spend more time looking at the clock and procrastinating that actually revising. Also, switch your phone off while you are revising.
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- 4. Take breaks!
The brain tends to get tired the longer you revise. This is why cramming is never a good idea. Before you know it, you’ve read the same sentence 5 times and you haven’t processed it at all. It is just as important to take breaks at the right time. Typically, I revised for 45 minutes straight and then took a 15 minute break but again, this is down to the individual. Don’t take breaks when you’re in the middle of writing something. You’ll find it more difficult coming back to revision if you do. My break consisted of making myself another cup of tea, chatting to a family member (most often, my mum who gave me lots of encouragement and support) or taking a brisk walk to the corner shop and back (fresh air is important – there’s nothing worse than studying in a stuffy room). I would also play a few pieces on the piano. This is because music exercises another part of your brain, giving the part that is doing all the hard work a rest. You shouldn’t really be reading, even for enjoyment or checking your phone during your breaks. You do that at the start and the end of the day so there are no distractions.
- 5. On the day of the exam…
Last minute revision, using mind maps or flash cards, is the best way to get the brain into exam mode. It goes without saying that you should revise for the exam that you will sit first. There is no point revising for Geography when your History exam starts in half an hour! Over lunch, you can revise for the exam you have next.
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