Strategies for Academic Success in Examinations

Years 9, 10 and 11 students are now preparing for their Semester One examinations (Thursday 10 June – Thursday 17 June). The College understands that examinations are just one way of assessing a student’s knowledge and understanding in their academic studies.

The following practical strategies are examples where each student can study content to improve the retention and application of knowledge under examination conditions.

Change the format of information. Use this for tables, lists, theories or systems:

  • Turn a list into a table and/or re-arrange the columns into a table
  • Turn a dense paragraph into a list of bullet points

Write frequently. If you need to write about information:

  • Use past exam papers and try to answer the questions without notes to work out strengths and weaknesses in the subject
  • Practice writing under timed exam conditions
  • Start by writing point form responses or just an introduction to an essay; write an answer, don’t just read the questions

Work collaboratively with friends:

  • Share and test your ideas and knowledge with other students. The very act of explaining a technique or approach to a problem is an active learning strategy
  • Explain what you know to a friend. Use diagrams and notes the first time and then try it on someone else from memory. Encourage the listener to ask questions
  • Test your knowledge verbally by exploring the ideas in your own words and in everyday language

Create missing links:

  • Make copies of formulae or an equation or a set of procedures. Write out different steps on each copy and during different study sessions, try to re-write that section or step. Gradually work towards erasing all steps except a title prompt and then practice recreating the entire piece
  • Practice writing out all of the labels on a diagram

Change your perspective. Useful for learning diagrams, figures and structures:

  • Try to learn what you have been taught from a different visual perspective. For example, if you have been studying the structure of the muscles of the right leg, try drawing them in the left leg. The point is to draw, recreate or imagine the image or concept from a different perspective

Increase your associations:

  • Look up the topic covered by your textbook on the Internet to make links with course content. You may find research or pictures or even an interactive page that approaches the same material in a new way
  • As well as reading the information, practice saying, drawing or explaining it

Do it! A useful approach to practical procedures, oral exams, practical exams, oral presentations and demonstrating equipment:

  • If you are being tested in a practical skill you can increase your competency by either practising the technique or mentally rehearsing the steps.
  • Practice verbal presentations, interviewing skills or oral exams in front of a mirror or with your friends and/or family. Ask them to question you further to help clarify your answers.

These ideas will assist in developing active learning techniques ensuring retention and comprehension will be enhanced.


Mark Ashmore, Deputy Principal – Learning and Teaching