Revision Tips to Manage Exam Anxiety


After crossing the midpoint of the academic year, students are a few months away from PSLE, O, N and A Level exams. Whereas many students are worried about not being well-prepared for the year end exams, some have to deal with exam anxiety. Exam anxiety can be understood as pre-exam nervousness that turns into debilitating feelings of worry, dread and fear. Needless to say, these anxieties have the potential to negatively impact exam performance. Moreover, beyond simply exam performance, anxiety about exams also has the potential to negatively affect the mental health of students and even result in lowered self-esteem, confidence, and motivation. Since every student will experience some level of exam anxiety at some point, it is important to learn how to manage and overcome it. With exams and tests looming in the coming months, this article proposes a revision plan that can stave off exam anxiety.

Setting a Revision Plan

Firstly, early and robust preparation can remove a great level of exam anxiety. Every student is different, so my advice will be kept general and I will leave the specific details to individuals’ needs. The amount of time needed to revise for exams depends on the content that will be tested.

Six months to go

For major exams, preparation can start six months before the exam date. The first three months should focus on the compiling of notes and study materials. These notes will be looked at repeatedly and should be accurate and easy to refer to. Digital copies stored in hard drives may not be visible enough, so I suggest printing hardcopies and filing them neatly. Good labelling system will also make retrieval easy at later stages. After all notes have been organised, students should start reading and practising questions by topic.

Three months to go

Two to three months before the exams, students should have revised all topics. At this point, students should be practising full past year papers and tracking scores. Note that every exam paper is set differently and scores may fluctuate slightly. Students should practise timing themselves and experiment with different time strategies for these exam papers. Also keep track of answers that are incorrect and ensure that students understand their errors in knowledge, application or answering technique. An average of two to three exam papers per subject per week should be sufficient for practice and diagnosis of weaknesses.

One month to go

With one more month to the exams, students should cut down on the number of practice papers to one per subject per week. The rest of the time should be used to read the study notes compiled during the early stages of revision. Doing this will give students an opportunity to work on topics that may not have been covered in the past year exam papers and give them a chance to return to these minor points. At this point, the student is ready to take the exam any time.

One week to go

The last seven days should be about mental and emotional balance. By then, students should not be learning new facts and techniques. Learning new techniques and concepts with very limited time will greatly increase exam anxiety. If a student cannot grasp the new knowledge well, it may make them feel unprepared and snowball into exam anxiety. Your child needs to know (if they don’t, tell them) that he/she is ready for the exams before they enter the examination hall. Otherwise they will lack confidence, blank out or give up. This point is the most crucial in staving off exam anxiety. Many students make the mistake of studying new materials up to the final day of the exams and then crash out during exams. Very often, they are able to answer majority of the questions on hindsight. Unfortunately, they have mentally collapsed because of their state of panic.

With a clear and structured plan, parents can support their children’s road towards the PSLE, O, N, and A Level exams and avoid exam anxiety. Parents may feel inadequate when preparing their children for exams. That’s where teachers and tutors come in. We have guided years of graduating students across their respective finish lines. We know what works and how to work smart. If you need to find out how we help our students prepare for PSLE English exams, contact us at admin@cognitus.edu.sg or 83218252.



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