Preparation for your Personal Best


Preparation for Your Personal Best Science Exams Dr. Tamara O’Connor Student Learning Development Student Counselling Service Trinity College Dublin [email protected]



• Explore a framework for managing exams • Learn about active examination preparation strategies • Rehearse performance at your personal best – exam taking strategies for science & problem solving exams

Examinations As an Event

• Sport – Skills development – Fitness training • Strength • Stamina – Performance rehearsal • Academic performance – Learning new material – Revision • Understanding • Memory – Performance rehearsal

Personal Best Performance

By managing: • Planning = Game Plan • Revision = Fitness training • Practice = Performance Rehearsal • Exam Taking = Performance Event • Performance Anxiety

Game Plan - Preparation

• Know yourself • Familiarise yourself with exam • What topics to revise?

• Skim all materials to determine what to cover • Overview work to be done & schedule time to do it

Know Yourself

• What are your exam concerns? Why?

• What do you do well?

• What could you do better?

• How do you study?

• What strategies do you use to prepare?

• How do you manage your stress?

Learn from the past

• Get detailed information about what your exam paper looks like • Identify and revise topics you do not know well • What works for you?

Organise an Active Revision Program • Know your learning styles • Make revision fun – Use revision strategies where you move around – Draw pictures, maps, cartoons, diagrams, etc – Put key points around your walls – Teach “someone” else and ask them key questions (answer the questions yourself) – Listen to tapes or view video/DVD versions of the material • Make exam preparation a social occasion

Revision – Fitness Training

MCQ Exams recognition & accurate knowledge Short Answer knowledge & understanding key ideas/facts at basic level

Thus for revision:

• Think vocabulary, words, terms, concepts, systems • Make flash cards & test yourself • Recite for precision • Verbal & visual strategies to check mastery • Create summary sheets, diagrams, charts, tables, mind maps

Go! Conditioned Reflex – MCQ Practice

• Read each question carefully • Circle key words or negatives • Identify modifiers and qualifiers (e.g. only, never, sometimes) • Read all options before making choice • Anticipate answer before looking at options • Check before marking answer

The following are all bones of the skull except: a. Parietal bone b. Temporal bone c. Tarsal bone d. Frontal bone

The function of dendrites is to:

a. slow down nerve impulses b. provide myelin coating for nerve c. synthesize neurotransmitters d. pick up nerve signals

Go! Conditioned Reflex – Short Answer Practice • Deconstruct the question • Think in own words • Find and use key words • Show what you know: Define key words, concepts, theories • Complete sentences • Stay relevant

Outline the structure of fats OR carbohydrates • Choose question • What are they looking for?

• How would I answer this?

• How would I revise in order to be able to answer this?

• Practice answering this type of question, varying topic

Outline and briefly discuss the three main approaches to understanding and defining stress • Stress – what is it?

• 3 main theories • Compare & contrast – definitions, causes, etc.

• Examples

Revision – Problem solving

• Use active learning strategies • Develop a range of strategies – Compare textbook & notes – Similarities & differences between problem types & solution methods – How apply different situations or data – Try to solve the problem as far as possible

Revision – Problem solving

• Practise problem-solving without your notes!

• Work with others • Work problems ‘out of context’

Rehearse performing at your personal best

• Practice by anticipating questions • Practice by answering old exam Q • Mark your own answers • Practice – un-timed and timed • Simulate exam conditions

Simulating Exam Conditions

• The key to both intellectual and emotional preparation for exams is simulation • The closer a simulation is to the actual event, the more likely it is that preparation will be effective • A simulation engages both intellectual and emotional responses

Rehearse Techniques for Personal Best Performance

• Visit the exam venue and get comfortable in it • Use photos, sketches, etc to bring the exam venue into your study space • Mentally place yourself in the exam venue when you are rehearsing


• Every athlete’s PB is in their mind • Visualisation is a vital part of performance preparation • Only ever visualise performing at your best

Keys to Your Personal Best • Game Planning – Organisation – Learn from the past • Fitness training using active revision strategies • Performance rehearsal using practice and simulation • Emotional


preparation Intellectual