Preparing for exams can be stressful. Sometimes, all you want to do is chat to someone who’s been through it all (and done really well!) and take their best tips and tricks.
Luckily, we’ve done this for you! We spoke with Jessica, the 2021 Dux of Centenary State High School in Brisbane, Queensland. Jess ranked first overall in QCE Psychology across the state, receiving a score of 97 in the subject and an ATAR of 98.15.
Being such a high achiever, we asked Jess for her best study tips. 👇
Take breaks between study sessions
Our brains use a lot of energy while we’re studying. This helps us concentrate on the task at hand, understand the content and remember what we’ve learned. That’s why we need to take breaks. According to Jess, taking some time to relax between study sessions was essential to avoiding mental fatigue and burnout.
“I split my day into multiple two-hour segments of study time for each subject I had exams for. Between each study session, I’d let myself go relax by reading a book or playing some games for about an hour or so. Without those breaks I know I would’ve burned myself out.”
You can watch Atomi’s video on taking the perfect break here.
On the topic of spacing your study sessions out, Jess says cramming for exams is a red flag. Not only is it bad for your health and wellbeing, but can also limit your ability to perform well in the exam room.
“It might sound cliche, but it was really important for me to be well-rested and get enough sleep before each exam. Cramming your revision in the last few nights before the exam. You won’t be able to remember any of the information efficiently if you don’t space your study sessions out.
Even if you could cram all your revision into one night and put off sleeping, it won’t help you much if you struggle to stay alert in the exam!
Preparing for exams
Practice makes perfect
When it comes to exam preparation, Jess says practice questions are essential. Completing practice questions also ensures you’re prepared for any type of question that comes your way, as well as refining your exam skills and hopefully increasing your overall confidence.
“I always started by summarising content in my own words in a notebook and revising these notes. Then, I completed as many practice external exams as I could, to help me apply the knowledge I had. I also used Atomi videos to wrap up my preparation and ensure I had every dot point covered.”
Check out Atomi's ultimate guide for completing past papers. It has everything you need to make the most of your practice papers.
Optimise a range of resources
It can be hard to stay motivated while studying. If you’re struggling with a particular concept or something’s just not clicking, it can be helpful to use other sources.
“I attribute a lot of my success to my Year 11 and 12 Psychology teacher and Atomi’s Psychology modules. My teacher really helped me understand the content and regularly assigned Atomi videos and questions, which allowed me to consolidate my understanding.”
Using online resources like Atomi can help to supplement your class materials and ensure you have all of your content covered. 😉
The day of an exam
Stay hydrated and eat well
We can’t forget the importance of a balanced diet. A good breakfast and lunch will ensure you have all of the energy you need to stay focused and switched on.
“Don’t forget to stay hydrated and full! This allowed me to have the energy to sit several external exams in a row and stay focused.”
Remember to bring a water bottle with you, so you can stay hydrated while in the exam room. Just make sure it’s clear with no labels and adheres to any other rules on the equipment list provided by your state’s education authority.
According to Jess, it’s important to be in the right mindset before going into an exam.
“The morning of, I’d briefly read over the summary notes I’d written for the subject—to jog my memory just in case I had forgotten something. Right before heading into the exam room, I stayed calm by reminding myself that I was ready for the exam, and that the preparation I had done would be enough to do well.”
Sometimes, it can be distracting talking to your classmates outside the exam room. So be sure to find somewhere quiet nearby where you can sit and relax before heading in.
Jessica is now in her first year of undergraduate studies, completing a Bachelor of Biomedical Science, and will complete her Doctor of Medicine (MD) post-graduation.