Exams are always stressful experiences, I remember going in to a Uni exam thinking that perhaps a life of crime would be less pressure than the Psychology Exam I was about to do. I actually stopped walking and reconsidered my chosen career due the exam that was blocking my path. After a couple of seconds I decided just to do my best and see what happens. It's at that moment, minutes before walking in, that you realise how important this time (weeks before the exam) is to your preparation. You wish you could have that time back again. Well, let's pretend we're at the exam, about to walk in. It's a cold morning, you have a pen in one hand, dictionary in the other and a prayer to St Jude, the patron saint of lost causes in your heart. You're annoyed at the student standing next to you rehearsing quotes out loud because not only did you not remember those quotes, but you forgot to commit any quotes to memory at all. Two people behind start review the use of colour in Wall*e and you think back to the half finished Pages template that you created two weeks ago and haven't looked at since. Someone in front of you laughs and you wonder how they can be so carefree walking in to this form of torture school's call EXAMS! If only you could go back in time two weeks and finish those templates of notes and studying them. If only you could remember two or three quotes and be confident when you can use them. If only you had watched the movie again instead of Master Chef! Ok, now you're back, it's two weeks before the exams, how does preparing for them sound?

How to prepare.

Preparing for exams are different for different people and for different subjects. When I had to remember facts and figures, I often drew pictures or symbols representing the fact I needed to remember. Many of you have seen my drawing of a Tom cat with an axe in it's head to remind me that CAT scan stands for Co-Axial Tomography. Preparing for an English exam is different. I highly suggest rereading the text a couple of times. Because Wall*e is a movie, that's so much easier. Remembering quotes isn't that hard. Trust me. Can you remember the lines to your favourite movies? "Stop looking at me swan!". Then you see it's possible.

By the time you get to the week or two before an exam, it's clear that if you are to have any hope of surviving, then you must start preparing earlier than that. In our last few weeks before the English exam we spoke about definite steps to preparing for this exam. Summarised, they look something like this.

1. Re-read the text. (Wall-e only takes a couple of hours to "re-read" so do it more than once.)
2. Take good notes. Good notes are ORDERED and MEANINGFUL. If you have done a bad job taking notes, don't study those notes! Ordered because it's often the categories or organisation of the information that helps you remember it. We tried to help you this time around by creating an ordered template for you to put your notes in. It also encouraged the use of pictures which aide memory recall. Meaningful means that you understand what you have written which is why it's so important to take good notes to begin with because if you choose to study someone else's notes due to yours being poor, you loose much of that meaning.
3. Commit certain things to memory. Remember themes and the examples that make that theme apparent. Try to remember four examples or quotes for each. Why? Because by doing this, you're preparing for an essay question that relates to a number of themes and you're preparing your evidence for each of the four paragraphs you'll need to write.
4. Argue about the text with someone. Sometimes you only figure out where you stand on an issue once you start arguing about it. In an effort to win the argument (and don't we all like to win?) your brain starts rushing through your memories for examples it can use as evidence. This is exactly what we want you to do in your paragraphs.
5. Finally, practise planning and writing. I must admit, I only did this last one when I was really stressed out about the exam but it helped me feel much more in control of the situation.

Please let me know how you did and what tips you used. Did some work for you? Did some tips not work? Contribute through the discussion on this page.
Mr Jilbert