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Figtree Focus: Three Steps To Successful Exam Preparation

The summer term will soon be upon us, bringing with it the start of exam season for our International Baccalaureate (IB), GCSE and A-level students. To avoid a last-minute dash to the finish line – which can hamper achievements and increase stress levels – we’ve put together a three-step approach to help get exam preparation off to the best start.

Step one: find the right approach for you

Everyone learns in different ways. But whether a student works best with visual or auditory cues, we always recommend revising little and often – as far in advance as possible. Setting a steady rhythm now will make it easier to maintain progress over a longer period, while giving students plenty of time to identify and target those areas that need a little extra support. This technique is often known as ‘spacing’, and research has consistently shown it’s one of the ‘most robust [strategies] across the entire history of experimental research on learning and memory’ (The Guardian).

With lots of revision techniques to explore – from flashcards to note-taking – it’s important to employ the right mix. But self-testing is a vital one to keep in the toolkit, as this has been shown to improve information recall. At Figtree, we always take the time to get to know our students, to devise a tailored strategy that not only follows evidence-based techniques, but promises the greatest individual impact.

Step two: embark on a subject deep-dive

All the revision tips and tricks in the book are no match for deep subject knowledge. Learning journeys should be rooted in broad understanding and confidence in the materials at hand – giving students the ability to think widely and critically, on their feet. Our targeted tuition is led by experienced, subject-matter specialists, and we always aim to match students with tutors who have excelled in their chosen subjects.

We have highly qualified tutors working across ages, subjects and exam boards – including a dedicated IB team, skilled at navigating the nuances of this often complex, and always challenging, exam. But while it’s critical to hit curriculum milestones, recent research has revealed a significant correlation between happiness and academic success. So we also work hard to bring subjects to life, running complementary group sessions, recommending extra reading or adding a fresh perspective to course material, to keep interest levels and engagement high.

Did you know…

Multitasking can increase your error rate by around 50%

Visual learning may increase information recall by 65%

93% of school teachers agree students perform better when learning in their preferred style


Step three: practice, practice, practice, exam techniques

Subject confidence is only part of the picture. It’s vital for students to gain experience in a wide range of exam techniques, and build familiarity with the testing environment. It’s completely natural to feel a little nervous on entering the exam hall, but there’s extensive research to show how stress can negatively impact memory. That’s why it’s important to get plenty of practice hours in, developing confidence and techniques to quieten those flutters, so students can perform to their very best.

We have a vast bank of practice papers to draw on, and we can even arrange for students to sit these in timed conditions, mirroring an invigilated exam. We provide detailed feedback on papers, working with students to unpick questions and hone approaches. We’ll also dive into essay writing techniques, critical thinking and time management – we even have some meditation tips up our sleeves – so our students are ready for whatever exam day presents.

Throughout the revision journey, we’ll be on hand to provide personalised advice and progress reports – tweaking our strategies as we go to make sure our students stay on track. And for those looking for extra help getting started, our academic assessments are a great way to map current abilities and identify target areas, to better inform revision planning.

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