Let’s assume that someone in your class is really clever and answers a lot of questions that the teacher asks. Will this person get the best grades in exams? Not necessarily.
Being intelligent and good at a subject is obviously advantageous, but if someone doesn’t know how to use their knowledge and skill, then it’s a waste. What I’m trying to say is, are they any good at exams?
I’ve seen so many people in school and University who are great at answering questions in class, which often leads to students comparing themselves to them.
Comparing yourself to someone is pointless. It doesn’t matter what someone else does all year or even what they get in exams, it’s an individual exercise, and it’s not a competition. There’s plenty of room for everyone to get good grades.
You have to remember that these seemingly clever people might be hopeless at exams, don’t do enough studying or don’t have the correct mental approach and freeze on the day.
Understanding the Assessment
I watch a lot of sport, and for example, if you go to a golf event, you can watch the professionals practise before they go out to play. They usually line up on the practice ground side by side, maybe 20 in a row, effortlessly hitting shots into the distance. You cannot tell who is the best golfer there and who is going to do well.
Imagine that someone who doesn’t know what any golfers look like was going to the practice ground and trying to identify Tiger Woods. They know that Tiger Woods is one of the best golfers of all time, but they would have no idea who he was versus an unknown standing next to him.
But someone has to win, and some golfers are winning millions consistently while others are struggling to pay their bills. Why?
The ones who are winning know how to play golf, and they know how to get a good score. They may not necessarily be the best at hitting the ball, but a golfer is assessed by how many shots it takes him or her to play 18 holes. That is all.
At school or University, you are assessed on how many questions you get correct in an exam.
You have to be good at exams, but you do not have to be the person getting all the questions correct during the class.
Now, this might seem unfair to some people, but that’s the way it is. Most of your mark for the year is determined by one or two exams. They are not simply assessing how good you are at a subject:
They are assessing how well you have prepared for the exam.
I believe that you can learn how to improve your exam performance for any subject, no matter if you are naturally good at it or not.
Nail The Study Process
If you can learn how to do exams, then it almost trumps everything else. You could sit and daydream in class or in lectures all year, but it doesn’t matter, as long as you know how to study, think well and do exam questions.
One thing I never mentioned in the golfing analogy was that the best golfers are also the best mentally. They know what to do and when to do it. They know what they need to work on. But most importantly, they believe in themselves and are not afraid, they don’t panic when under pressure, they are determined, they persevere, and they work very hard. All the traits you need to do well in exams.
It all really comes back to how you study and, even before that, what’s going on inside your head. The exam is where you put all the studying and practise into motion, and if you have done everything well beforehand, i.e. the preparation, you will improve your exam performance.
About the Author
Kevin Boyle is a full-time A-level Chemistry Tutor with 15 years of experience and a proven track record with students of all abilities. As an online chemistry tutor, he works with students across the UK, equipping them with the skills they need to excel in their exams.