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  • Writer's pictureZenith Education Studio

6 proven tips on what to do the week before your O Level or A Level Examinations

The truth is that the last stretch before an exam is the most important––staying in the right frame of mind, revising all that you need to know, and making sure that you do not have any gaps in your understanding in this last week will help you to excel during the O Level or A Level examinations. Some students, having expended all their energy in the weeks before, lose momentum during this crucial time. Other students, having planned their revision schedule poorly, are in a state of frenzy during this last week before their exams and end up forgoing their wellbeing. Both of these will have negative effects on your performance during the O Level or A Level Examinations. In this article, Zenith shares with you 10 study hacks to make sure you are studying with the best possible methods to maximise your productivity. Assuming that you followed through with a well-curated revision plan, you would want to stay on track for the last week right before your examinations. That is why, in this article, Zenith will be sharing 6 proven tips on what to do the week before your O Level or A Level examinations! If you’re still months away from your examinations and are hoping to create a bulletproof revision plan, look here instead.

Tip #1: Look through all your past practice papers.

While this might seem like a small step to take when preparing for your exams, looking through your practice papers the week before the O Level or A Level examinations helps you to recap everything that you need to know while familiarising yourself with the format of the examination once more. Over the course of the entire year, leading up to the O Level or A Level examinations, most students would have completed the entire Ten Year Series (TYS) for their various subjects. The TYS is an important resource because it allows students to identify common questions that are tested for each subject and spend more time preparing for them. This is especially so for subjects such as Mathematics and Science, where there are multiple question types that you have to be familiar with. Knowing which questions are more likely to appear during the O Level or A Level examinations means that you are less likely to be taken aback when these questions appear in your papers, and you can secure your marks with greater ease. Looking through practice papers that you have personally attempted before also helps you to take note of the questions you tend to make mistakes for. During your examinations, be on a constant lookout for these repetitive errors that you succumb to!

As Singapore’s top tuition center for secondary school and JC students, Zenith makes it a point to go through numerous practices on common questions that appear in the O Level and A Level examinations with our students. Our tutors also take note of each student's problem areas and provide them with individual feedback for constant improvement. While our lessons are carried out in small groups to reap the benefits of interactive learning, our teachers always make it a priority to provide all our students with targeted comments that specify their individual strengths and weaknesses. Find out how group learning at Zenith can benefit you in preparing for the A Level Economics and General Paper examinations!

Tip #2: Complete a final practice paper.

Having looked through the past practices that you have completed, Zenith advises you to do one final practice paper before your examinations. This final practice, aside from helping students to identify any last misconceptions they might have, also provides them with a boost of confidence for their O Level or A Level examinations. In addition, it provides them with sufficient practice such that they do not forget any of the concepts they might feel less familiar or certain about. After all, doing well for the O Level and A Level examinations revolves around discipline––consistent practice in moderation is unlikely to fail you! The week before your examinations is definitely not the time to lose the momentum you’ve painstakingly built up over months. As Conrad Hilton, the founder of the massive Hilton hotel chain today said, “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” Don’t be a quitter when you’re so near the light at the end of the tunnel!

Tip #3: Clarify any last doubts you might have.

Nothing is worse than stepping into an examination hall knowing that there are things that you do not know. As Alexander Graham Bell, the engineer who is credited with creating the telephone, said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success”. To illustrate, there is simply no way that you will suddenly understand Newton’s Law of Gravity in the examination hall if you didn’t clarify your doubts about it before that! This is precisely why it is important for you to flag out any questions and concepts you have trouble with when completing your final practice paper, and clarify them with your tutors as soon as possible.

At Zenith, our dedicated tutors strive to be available round-the-clock. All our tutors provide students with their individual contact details, and students are free to contact them at any time. Our tutors will aim to get back to you as soon as possible, on a one-to-one basis, instead of waiting till the next lesson to clarify your doubts. Students who prefer face-to-face consults can also opt to arrange one-to-one or group consultations with their dedicated tutors. Simply drop by at our centers at the arranged time and get your questions answered! Since all our locations in Singapore also have dedicated study areas with well-stocked snack bars, students can feel free to stay at our centers after their consultations to study and do their revision. If you have questions and your tutors happen to be available without a prior appointment, they’ll definitely be happy to lend you a hand. Find out more about the Zenith experience here and get to know what our students have to say about Zenith here.

Tip #4: Revise all the key concepts/information that you need to know.

The night before your O Level or A Level examinations should not be spent cramming any practice papers––it’s (probably) a tad too late to be burning the midnight oil, especially when you should be getting a good night’s sleep! In any case, it is not advisable for you to be doing practice papers when there is no one to clarify your doubts with. It might create a lot of unnecessary anxiety and stress, especially if you are already feeling nervous about the examination. What Zenith recommends you to do instead is to look through all the “cheat sheets” and notes you have prepared. Students in the Zenith family are often provided with condensed and easy-to-digest notes to aid with your revision process. Look through all the key concepts and familiarise yourself with them once more. Make sure that you are completely sure about them and are able to explain and apply them. For humanities subjects, also make sure that you have memorised sufficient citable material to support any arguments you might make. Keen to improve your grades for the A Level General Paper examinations? Read this article to learn more about which mistakes to avoid when writing your A Level GP essay and find out how to improve your command of the English language here!

Tip #5: Consolidate your learning with mind maps.

In this article, Zenith teaches you how to strengthen your understanding of important concepts with mind maps. Mind maps are an especially useful resource because they enable you to break down complicated ideas into simple, easily digestible diagrams. The best thing is that you are able to sketch these mind maps within a few minutes during your O Level or A Level examinations, which are a simple way for you to visualise important concepts you might have trouble with on the spot. This is especially so for subjects with an overarching structure, such as A Level Economics, where most concepts are related to the Central Problem of Economics: Scarcity. Being able to delineate (using quick sketches of mind maps) how theories and definitions from other themes are related to Scarcity might be able to help you plan more cohesive answers during your examinations. This shows your understanding of a bigger picture beyond every single theme, which is one of the A Level Economics syllabus' key learning aims. This is why, given their applicability, reinforcing your learning with mind maps might enhance your performance at the O Level or A Level examinations!

Tip #6: Stay calm and get sufficient rest!

It is completely normal that you feel some level of stress before and during your O Level or A Level examinations––they are very important assessments that impact your future in quite a number of ways! Positive stress motivates you and encourages you to perform in your best state as you become more focused. This puts you in a position to do even better during the examinations as your brain neurons are more stimulated, enabling faster and more accurate retrieval of information. Experiencing too much stress, on the other hand, can cloud your judgment and cause you to doubt yourself, even when attempting questions that you have done countless times. It interferes with working memory, making it difficult for you to practice active recall. This might mean that you end up feeling as if you have never encountered a concept before, even when you just revised it the night before. Of course, you would not want such a situation to happen during your examinations, which is why it is extremely important for you to handle your emotions well! Mental health is every bit as important as your physical health during examination season; find out more about how you can manage your examination stress with Zenith in this article, which walks you through the types of emotions you might feel before, during, and after an exam, and guides you on how to cope with them effectively. Above all, always remember that there will be another opportunity for you to move towards the goals that you have, so take every examination as part of your (much longer) journey in life, rather than an end in itself!

At Zenith, we also know that some students are night owls and prefer studying at night. That’s perfectly alright in the months and weeks leading up to your O Level or A Level examinations, provided you are physically healthy. However, the week before the examinations, we recommend that you begin to adjust your sleep cycle so that it aligns with regular school hours. Most papers at the O Level and A Level examinations are morning papers, and it is recommended that you get sufficient rest (7-9 hours of sleep) before sitting for them. Some claim that going straight into an examination on no sleep aids their memory retention during the paper, but this is unfortunately not true. It may feel like you are more lucid than usual, but your body is actually fatigued and struggling to function on adrenaline––this means that you could crash and draw a blank any time, which is extremely risky for such high stake examinations! This also means that you are putting more stress on your mind than necessary, which might affect how optimal your performance is.

In sum, here are the 6 tips for what you should do the week before your O Level or A Level Examinations (or any other examination really):

  • Go through past practices––take note of common mistakes to avoid and common questions to score for

  • Complete a final practice paper to reinforce your understanding

  • Clarify any doubts you might have as soon as you can

  • Revise the main concepts you need to know for the examination

  • Consolidate your learning with mind maps

  • Keep calm and walk into the examination hall with confidence and sufficient rest

At Zenith, we strive to make our students’ learning experience as enjoyable and as smooth as possible––we love to see our students excel. Keen to find out more about Zenith’s specially curated tuition programmes? Click here for an overview of all our programmes, and contact us for a free trial lesson here. We’re looking forward to seeing you; don’t feel shy and bring a friend or two with you too!

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