“I don’t know the answer to any of the questions! My mind’s a blank!” I thought as I flipped through the questions. My heart was in my mouth and for some reason, the words on the paper were blurred. I blinked to make them focus but it was to no avail.
“Stop writing! The exam is over,” the invigilator declared, but at that moment, I woke up.
Is this you? Do you have recurring dreams about your examinations or are just nervous and jittery in general? Do you also have trouble paying attention in class and concentrating on your work just because the examinations are around the corner? Well, here are three focus tips during revision.
1. Focus on your strengths
Are there certain components that you feel more confident about compared to others? For instance, you may be more confident in Grammar Cloze and Visual Text Comprehension. Focus on your strengths to try and ace those components first! If you have been scoring close to full marks but not consistently so for those components, start your revision by working on those first. You can choose to have intensive practice on those sections since you are more confident in them so that you can really achieve your best .
When you see your chance of perfecting them becoming higher, it will be time to move on to another component and to drill on those next. Many a times, children do not see a need to practise on what they are already good at and end up losing marks due to lack of practice in those areas. Make what you are good, even better!
During full paper practice/ examination:
In every examination or revision worksheet, there will always be questions that you can do. Do the manageable sections first, like the Grammar MCQ. In the Grammar MCQ, for example, read through all of the questions and attempt the ones that you know the answers to, first. When you’re done, return to all the questions that you are unsure of and then attempt them.
This method also applies to different sections!
If you’re doing a comprehension cloze, focus on the blanks you can fill in first. For comprehension, attempt the sequencing questions or the direct questions—those that require you to look for the answer from the passage.
The key is to focus on your strengths and seize all the marks that you know you can definitely capture first. This also prevents you from having time management issues as you may end up dwelling on a question for too long and be short of time for the rest of the paper.
Be sure to check the paper very carefully to make sure you do not miss out any questions at the end!
2. Focus on one question type at a time
Now that you know which components to focus on first, shall we zoom in further to know how to revise for each section effectively?
Revision can be daunting because there’s a mountain of work to do. However, you can make life a little easier for yourself by focusing on one question type at a time. This applies to sections like Grammar and, Synthesis and Transformation because there are so many question types! As I mentioned in tip #1, focus on the Synthesis questions that you know how to do, first. Attempt a few questions and then try the rest which you find more challenging!
Before attempting practices like past year papers that have combined question types, remember to go through what you need to look out for every question type first!
3. Focus mentally
If revision makes you feel jittery, remember to breathe! However, it’s not just the act of taking oxygen in and breathing out carbon dioxide—you have to be mindful of your breathing to clear your mind. In this way, you will be able to calm down and attempt your revision of exam questions.
I highly recommend the 4-7-8 method. Here’s how it goes:
Inhale quietly through your nose and count to four
Then, hold your breath and count to seven
Breathe out through your mouth and count to eight
If you don’t think you can hold your breath for that long, you can change the count to maybe six or so. In the same way, if you can’t exhale for that long, you can stop exhaling at the count of seven. The numbers are a guideline—all you need to do is focus on the counting and breathing, which will help immensely.
Now that you know of these tips, I wish you the best of luck in your revision. Examinations are fraught with worry, but all that matters is you do your best.
If you would like to know more about study tips and how to improve Focus and Reduce Procrastination, let Daniel Wong, the bestselling author of The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfilment and Success help you today!