How to Be Successful in Exams

Assessment, mock and final exams can be very stressful for students. Our schools have identified 5 key areas that when in place significantly reduce anxiety linked to exam pressure and increases a student’s chance of being successful in their exams. These areas are:

  • Good attendance
  • Use of effective revision strategies
  • Good organisation
  • Work during the holiday
  • Awareness of common revision mistakes

Please click on the tabs below to find out more information about each of the 5 key areas. We have also created a booklet for both parents and students with extra information and links to support our students during their exams.

Please click here for the advice booklet for students.

Please click here for the advice booklet for parents of Year 11.

Please click here for the advice booklet for parents of Year 13.

  • Attendance

    Attendance is crucial to ensure that students not only has as much teaching contact with their teachers as possible, but also to ensure they are privy to essential exam practice. There is a strong link correlation between attendance and success in final exams. The table below shows the attendance of two Year 13 students last year and their final grades.


    Overall attendance


    Subject attendance

    Final grades

    Student 1











    Student 2











    It is clear that low attendance has a significant impact on final grades as missed lessons creates knowledge gaps. These gaps in knowledge become quickly apparent to students and puts students under even more pressure to catch up.

  • Use of effective revision strategies

    Throughout their time at our schools, students are taught what constitutes effective and ineffective revision strategies. Often the easiest strategies prove to be the most ineffective. The following have all been proven by research to have little or no impact on learning:

    • Rereading
    • Copying notes
    • Summarising
    • Highlighting key words

    The two most effective revision strategies are testing and spacing coupled with good motivation and organisation. Research shows that students who test themselves regularly remember significantly more information and are less likely to suffer from the negative effects of stress associated with exams. Students have been told that although testing and spacing out their testing may feel uncomfortable and more difficult than other strategies, they are the most effective.

    Please click here for further information on these strategies.

  • Organisation

    There is a clear link between disorganisation and anxiety and during the run up to the mocks and final exams, students need to be calm and in control. Students are given time to plan out their study/revision and create a plan of what their days would look like to ensure that they have time to complete the work set. Having a plan reduces the anxiety of not knowing and ensures that students are in control of their own day. We are encouraging students to plan out their revision sessions to ensure that they are as effective as possible. All teachers when setting homework provide time limits for the different tasks. This is to ensure that students to not spend a disproportionate amount of time on one task and then become anxious and rush to complete the other tasks. Please speak with your son/daughter about these timings and support them to keep within the time limits set.

  • Work during the holidays

    The courses that students follow, whether it be GCSEs, BTECs or A levels, are extensive and as such require students to be working at a high level over the full 18 months of the course. Cramming for a GCSE, A level or a BTEC exam is not possible due to the amount of knowledge required. The homework tasks that students are set incorporates topics that you have covered from the start of your course. This enables students to revise throughout the course and again reduces the anxiety and stress linked to exams. Due to the fact that GCSE, A level or BTEC courses are studied over a period of 18 months, it is expected that students will spend time during the holidays on the work set by their teachers. All work set over the holidays will be targeted preparation for the exams, preparation for new topics or consolidation of already taught topics. We understand that this may be unpopular, however, this preparatory work completed over the holidays will ensure that the exams and assessments pass without increased stress caused by lack of revision and preparation.

  • Common Mistakes

    The link below highlights the most common mistakes that students make during their studies and when revising for exams. Our teachers regularly discuss these with students and we would urge you to do the same to ensure they don’t fall into the same traps.

    Please click here for more information.

  • Feeling anxious?

    Tests and exams are an important way of finding out what students know and don’t know and what they can and can’t do. Without this information, teachers would not be able to adapt their plans and fill in gaps that they may have. Like any situation in which a person’s performance is being evaluated, the outcomes may feel very significant. We understand that exams have the potential to be stressful.

    It is perfectly normal to experience anxiety and, research shows, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Anxiety and stress cause the body to release adrenaline which can be helpful when responding to challenging situations. Stress will help students focus on preparing for, and then apply themselves during, the exam itself.

    If your son/daughter is feeling worried about exams, please click here to see our Health and Wellbeing page where you will find lots of support and contact details of people who can help.

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