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Strategies for Improving Exam Performance

Exams are an occupational hazard of most forms of serious study and exam technique is a crucial skill that is often overlooked by students. An effective exam technique can often mean the difference between success and failure in a course of study. Individual students develop their own particular approach to exams, but experience shows that there are some strategies that are more likely to succeed than others.

The purpose of exams is to assess and grade the extent to which students have acquired the knowledge, perspective and skills associated with the objectives of the course and to provide valuable feedback to students, teaching staff and the general community. Exams are seen as objective measures of the ability of students to understand and apply the principals and theoretical models associated with their course's view of the world.

Because of the pressures associated with the exam format, students should expect an increased level of stress, both during the exams and in the weeks leading up to them. Stress manifests itself in many unexpected ways and can often be a positive force within our lives. Nevertheless, inability to deal productively with increased levels of stress causes performance to deteriorate and, eventually health problems can occur.

There is a simple meditation technique that may calm you. This technique involves closing your eyes and emptying your mind of any thought but that of a bubble of air nestling in your stomach. Breathe out and visualize this bubble rising to a point within your forehead. Breathe out and visualize the bubble returning via your nose to its original spot within your stomach. Repeat this a number of times, deliberately ejecting and other thoughts that may attempt to crowd in. When you open your eyes again, your mind, body and spirit will be rested and you will feel more in control. Many people laugh at this type of meditation and say that it does not work. However, these people's pessimistic nature ensure that anything like this that they try will not work.
In order to ensure that your performance in exams truly reflects the knowledge and skills that you have developed in your course of study, you need to organize various aspects of your life and develop strategies to help you in the weeks before the exam, in the days before the exam, on the morning of the exam and during the exam. Each of these topics is dealt with below. Good luck!
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Organization

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The Preceding Weeks

In the weeks leading up to the exam, the following strategies are recommended:
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Days Leading Up to the Exam


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During the Exam


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