Listen to this page
It is certainly true that some people are brighter than others but everyone has the potential to do well in most of their subjects and often it comes down to how much work you’re willing to put in.
Even if you find things hard, pushing yourself for a couple of years will pay off once you're out there on your own.
Exam results shouldn't be your only focus but there's no getting away from the fact that good grades are going to come in very handy.
There's loads you can do to help yourself by doing the proper reading and research for your assignments, practising for exams and by taking advantage of school trips and work experience opportunities.
Exams are stressful and are supposed to challenge you. Unless you've had loads of practice, nothing prepares you for sitting in a massive room, deadly quiet, desperately trying to remember tonnes of information. Even the brightest, most confident students find them difficult. Try to develop your exam technique by going to a study club. Also, try to take a look at your subject syllabus and past papers so you have an idea what to expect.
Need some extra help? Check out BBC Bitesize which has loads of help with revision and practise questions.
- Revision timetables are brilliant to break down your work into bite size pieces – remember to make them realistic to fit in with your other commitments so that you can stick to it!
- Remember not to spend too much time planning revision and making revision timetables. You’ll end up doing more planning than actual revision! Click the links below for a sample revision timetable and a template that is quick and easy to use.
- Apps on smart phones are useful to plan your diary and timetable. There are also loads of apps to revise for certain subjects. Have a look on your phone or tablet today – there are loads of free ones out there!
- Audio books can be helpful with English. They can be played on your journey to school or whenever you have a free moment to familiarise yourself with a text.
Exam stress advice
Wanting to do well in your exams is a good thing and working hard to do your best is brilliant but this can turn into stress which may make things worse. We’ve put together some tips so that if you are getting stressed out about your exams you can address the problem and get it under control:
- Learn to recognise when you're stressing out. A break or a chat with someone who knows the pressure you're under will get things into perspective.
- Take some time for you and have a nice bath or even take five minutes to sit and do nothing!
- Avoid comparing your abilities with your mates. Those "Oh my God I've only read Macbeth 17 times" conversations like this will only wind you up. Everyone approaches revision in different ways, so just make sure you've chosen the method that works best for you. Make a realistic timetable and stick to it.
- Eat right. Treat yourself like a well honed machine - eat fresh fruit and veg and have a proper breakfast. Fuel your brain as well as your body - no one can think straight on coffee and chocolate.
- Sleep well. Wind down before bed and don't revise under the duvet - your bed is a sanctuary, not a desk. Get your eight hours.
- Exercise. Nothing de-stresses the mind faster than physical activity, so build it into your timetable. If possible, speak to VSK staff or your carer about what may be the best option for you! Being a sloth makes our mind sloppy too.
- Quit the bad habits. Cigarettes, caffeine and alcohol never stopped anyone being stressed for very long.
- Panic is often triggered by hyperventilating (quick, shallow breaths). So if you feel yourself losing it during the exam, sit back for a moment and control your breathing. Deep breath in and out through the nose, counting to five each way.
- Steer clear of any exam 'post-mortem'. It doesn't matter what your mate wrote for Question 3b, it's too late to go back and change your answers, so it will just make you worry even more.
- Ultimately, don't lose sight of the fact that there is life after exams. Things might seem intense right now, but it won't last forever.
A lot of lessons have trips or out-of-school activities. Don't miss out!
These not only give you extra knowledge, they're a good laugh and can be a great way of making friends with your classmates. Most people who have left school will treasure memories of trips away, not only for the knowledge they have gained, but also because of the social side of the experience.
If it looks expensive, don't be put off. Most local authorities will be more than happy to help to fund the trip if they think it's something that's going to help with your education. Get your carer to check it out.
Work experience is a great way to get a taste for what you might want to do once you leave school and by law you must be given the opportunity to do some work experience, either in Year 10 or 11. Your designated teacher will be able to give you all the details about work experience at your school because it won’t be the same everywhere. It is something that you can mention during a PEP review, to make sure that you have an input into your experience.
Work experience needs to be valuable but some work places are better at making sure that this is the case. If you feel that your placement is not giving you the experience that you would want then speak to the teacher at school who is in charge of organising work experience. Tell that person what is wrong and he or she should be able to speak to your work place and see if changes can be made.