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How to improve your marks for the final exams

By Danielle Barakat on 24 September 2020Study tipsExam adviceNSWblog

Term 3 is winding down, which means you’ve received most of your marks back from the exams and assessments you’ve done this term. This can be a pretty daunting time for most of you because at this stage, your internal marks have now been secured and all that’s left to do for year 12 is sit those sneaky little set of exams in October. So how do you take the marks you’ve just received and turn them into a strategy for improvement before your final exams?

Here are our top 4 tips:

1. Don’t let bad results get you down

Term 3 is almost over, you got through your last set of internal exams/assessments so the first thing you have to do is be proud of yourself. Even if you didn’t go as well as you were hoping, don’t stress because you can still turn things around – so don’t let your bad results get you down!

It’s easy to feel like you’ve messed up your whole year but you haven’t. Have your dramatic moment, you’re allowed to do that, but we can promise you that it’s not the end of the world and you will come back from this.

2. Work together

We mentioned this in our last blog post but if you missed it then here it is again: now is the time to work together as a year group. Your ranks and internal marks are secured so there is no reason for anyone to be competitive anymore, you should all be working towards the same goal of lifting your marks as a year group. So talk to your peers with the top marks to pick their brains and find out whether they have a different study strategy, a great set of notes or a deep understanding of the subject that they can explain to you. A lot of the time, it’s easier for a student who has just learned the course to explain it to you in a way that will just ‘click’.

The more you work together to improve their exam results, the safer you will be individually. Your ATAR is a rank, and the better your cohort does, the better it will be for your own ATAR.  So don’t be shy and share your notes!

3. Fine-tune your study habits

This tip is nothing shocking. The best way to improve your exam marks is to improve the way you study. As well as paying attention to the actual feedback you’re given on your exams/assessments you should also tune into your study experience so you can make the necessary adjustments before your exams come around.

The first step in doing this would be getting yourself a nice study timetable. Study timetables go a long way in helping you organise yourself and stay ahead of your work. Luckily we have prepared study timetables for you to work off. You can find them here!

If you came across things in your term 3 exams that you didn’t expect to be there, then you need to spend some time studying the syllabus and where the content fits in context. We have a bit more info on how to do that here.

What if you couldn’t remember anything and you had a mental blank in your exam? Well, you probably need to change up your study techniques and implement some creative methods that will help you memorise. We have some great ideas in this post that will help you get your brain juices flowing.

If you’re the kind of person that gets poor marks because you haven’t answered the question properly, then you probably need to practise applying your knowledge rather than just learning it. That’s where practice papers come into play. But don’t just do past papers. Do them right.

And last but not least, if you just felt nervous and the anxiety got the better of you, then it’s time to refine your stress management strategies. Managing your stress goes a lot way in helping you think clearly and recall important content. Here are some stress management strategies from our expert team.

4. Prioritise your weaker subjects

Once we know how to study, it’s time to focus on what to study. There is no point going back and spending hours on the content you know pretty well, confidently answered and got good marks for in your last exams. Yes, it’s important to revise that content, but spending too long on it is a waste of time. You’re better off spending a bit of extra time focusing on the subjects or topics you didn’t do so well in. Basically you want to bring those weaker subjects up to the level of your stronger subjects,

See, consistency is key for a great ATAR and while it’s pretty tempting to spend more time with the subjects that make you feel good, you’ve got to share that love around. Luckily the weaker the subject, the more feedback you have from your teachers and there’s more room to improve. Don’t throw away those exams you get back. Sit down with your teacher (or a smart cookie in your class 🍪) and go through your exam answers so you know exactly where you went wrong and how to improve. Then refer back to past papers, try them out, get them marked and start the process all over again until you feel confident in every topic of every subject.


Term 3 results are just a guide to where you should be focusing your attention over the next month of holidays, they are not a reflection of how smart you are or what your ATAR is going to be. You still have a chance to improve, so use it wisely. Get on top of the content you didn’t do so well in, fine-tune your study methods and habits, stay positive and stress less. That’s the key to improving your marks for your final exams.

Like what you read? There's more where that came from:

Explore more study and exam tips!

Read: Making sure your notes are exam ready

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Watch: Strategies for smashing procrastination during an exam block

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