13 Tips On How To Score Well For O Levels
As the clock winds down rapidly to the first day of O level examinations on the 3rd of October 2019, the question of “How to score well for O Levels” hangs upon nearly every student’s mind with some choosing to go for more tuition classes to have more revision or trying frantically to mug as hard as possible to have a good chance of doing well in the O Levels.
1) Don’t prepare just for the O Levels, prepare for life.
While doing well for the O Levels can definitely be a huge boost to your confidence, many students study just for the exam and forget all the lessons they have learned, both relating to their subject and otherwise after they walk out of the exam room. While this is very natural and is often joked about, it is also very common, as there is no seeming need to retain the information afterwards.
However, it is actually better to study for the O Levels like you’ll have to remember the information gained forever, not just for the one big exam. Planning to do well for the O Levels is one thing, but planning to do well for life is another.
As Benjamin Franklin once said in his famous quote:
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”
The same rule applies for studying as you have to juggle your time between studying, your leisure time and other activities that you participate in. If you’re unsure and need more comprehensive guidance on how to plan a timetable out, check out a successful student’s schedule.
We personally recommend taking thirty minutes of your time every two weeks to schedule the things that you want to do over that period of time. If you plan too far ahead, there is a huge possibility of some events cropping up like planned outings with friends. This may mess with how you plan with your timetable if you have planned it very rigidly, causing you stress at being unable to stick to your overly tight timetable.
You should also take the thirty minutes to reflect on your progress for revising on your subjects so that you can achieve your desired results for O Levels.
2) Actually do your homework.
We know that having to do homework is pretty much every student’s worst nightmare, and for good reason. When the O Levels are coming up, teachers will unload a impossible barrage of homework and exam papers for you to practice on. That can be extremely stressful for many students, and often makes them recoil in disgust at the prospect of more and more homework.
However, if you keep focusing yourself on your end goal, which is achieving the grades that you want to achieve and the ample amount of holiday time after O Levels, it will motivate you to push through the homework.
In addition, doing more homework will help you to take note of which topics that you are weak in which brings me to my next point which is clarifying your doubts. Your teachers have printed revision papers for batches and batches of students, and they clearly are doing so for a reason.
3) Clarify your doubts.
Clarifying your doubts is an extremely crucial step towards achieving good grades. It can be difficult asking teachers or friends for help clarifying your doubts, especially if you are shy or your teacher is fierce, but not doing so may cause you to have misconceptions over a topic. Worse still, however, you may needlessly lose marks to questions you might have known how to do, if only you had asked beforehand.
If you feel too shy or embarrassed to openly ask questions in class or lesson time, don’t be afraid to ask for a 1 to 1 private consultation with your teacher. Most teachers (well, the good ones) will offer some form of consultation time just before the exams itself, but your chances of undisturbed time with your teacher is slim, as many other students will also be rushing to ask. Hence, try to “book” your teacher as early as possible.
Many students wait till a week before the exams to clarify their doubts which may lead to unnecessary panic and anxiety, which in turn undermines their potential performance in the actual O Level exam.
If your teacher is fully booked up, another great alternative is consulting friends that are strong on the topic that you are weak at. Be prepared to offer to tutor your friend in other subjects you’re better in though — nothing comes for free.
4) Don’t go frantically googling for “O Level worst case scenarios” or other “doomsday” possibilities.
There’s a pretty great Medium article on why you shouldn’t google your life’s problems , and it definitely applies to googling for the O Levels.
It’s one thing to google chemistry notes or tips on how to score well for the O Levels (like this article you’re reading now), but googling about what happens if you get bad O Level results or similarly negative things is definitely detrimental to your self confidence and ability to stay calm while revising. Many posts on the O Levels often are made by other students who have a panicked state of mind, which really should not be you, if you are preparing adequately for the exam.
Even the most well-prepared student can be panicking the night before exams due to the constant stress and anxiety that the student has been experiencing, so if you’re worried still, there’s really no need to panic.
What should I do, then?
Keeping calm and having a clear mind is vital to scoring well for exams as studies have shown that too much stress in your brain prevents your brain from recalling information which will undermine your potential to score well.
When you are stressed, taking deep breaths will help you to relax your mind and body so that you are able to focus on the work that you are doing and make less errors such as the all too common and infamous careless mistakes.
Referring to our previous point of planning in advance via a timetable (point 2), if you have truly have revised all the materials that you need to, there is simply no good reason for you to panic before or during exams. If you panic, you are simply letting your state of mind hold you back towards achieving the grades you truly deserve after all those months of hard work and preparation you have done.
5) Get enough sleep.
This is one point that many people including adults don’t take care of, their sleeping hours. Many students constantly say that they’re tired and sleep deprived. They can’t focus in class and start to daydream.
Even teachers always complain that students lack vitality and enthusiasm for their classes and are not responsive to their questions and teaching.
Studies have concluded that 8 hours of sleep is the optimum amount of sleep for most people although some people may need more or able to function well enough with less sleep.
If you are sleeping less than six hours every night, the optimal thing to do is slowly bring forward your sleeping time. If you make a drastic change to your sleeping hours, your body will not be able to adapt and you may end up waking up at odd hours in the night. Even if your schedule is so tight that you don’t have much time to sleep, I will still recommend sleeping at the very least six hours to boost your productivity levels.
6) Be tidy and organized.
After you read this point, take a quick look around your room or the place where you study.
Is it a clean, neat and conducive environment for you to study in?
Or is it cluttered with a huge mountain of junk that is a complete eyesore and draws much complaint from your parents?
A clean and tidy environment helps to boost productivity compared to a filthy and chaotic environment. Cleanliness does not only stop at your work space – it also extends to the way you organize your worksheets and homework. If you spend a troublesome amount of time running your hands through your worksheets in frustration trying to find a particular one, it’s time to reorganize. Not only are messy notes unpleasant to look at, they are also taking up a lot of your precious revision time.
A good way to organize your worksheets is to get yourself a ring file for every subject that you take. Get some dividers from the bookstore and sort the worksheets according to topics or any other way that proves the most convenient method for you to find the worksheet that you need. You’ll find that it’s much more efficient and so much easier to sort through afterwards.
7) Eat regular meals at regular times.
The advice we here at Bright Culture can offer is pretty typical, and it’s likely you’ve heard it before, which is:
- Eat meals at regular timings
- Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day
- Limit Snacking especially during your study time
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Avoid drinking sugary drinks as even though it gives you a sugar rush that can keep you awake a for a while, you will crash hard afterwards and feel tired.
That, combined with our next point will get you into prime physical and mental health and raring to go for your exam.
8) Take the time to exercise.
“I don’t have time to exercise!”
This is definitely the most common excuse not to exercise, and to be entirely fair, it does have some merit.
In developed countries, our lives today can be so hectic and busy that we have nary a moment to exercise. However, it is important to remember that exercise can improve your mental health and mood and help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. Don’t forget that it also improves sleep quality, so make sure to reserve some time for blood pumping exercise in your planned timetable to work out your body! It’s definitely part of helping you with how to score well for O Levels.
9) Make some quick cheat sheets with information you need.
An example of one of our quick cheat sheets for chemistry.
A common phenomenon that many people experience is having studied some information, but are completely unable to remember said information in the exam room despite trying their absolute hardest to remember.
We recommend making some quick cheat sheets with all the information you need to recall regularly. Aim to fill up a A4 piece of paper per subject for conciseness and repeatedly look at it before entering the exam hall.
Once you are told to start writing, immediately regurgitate the things you have written on your last-minute cheat sheet on your question paper.
Although this tip may induce some stress which contradicts the tip which I mentioned earlier which is the state of mind, it can still be a real-life saver if the information that you have trouble memorizing is heavily tested during your O Levels examination.
10) Keep yourself safe during the O Level exam period.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that during periods of stress and anxiety (which the O Levels contains plenty of), students and people in general are much less careful about the rest of their daily lives. This leads to them often falling sick or incurring a sports injury and being in poor condition to take the O Level exam or show up to the exam day itself.
As your O Levels examination is only held on those specific days, having to retake your O Levels examination is not only very troublesome and you may be very well on your own without your teachers to guide you along. Furthermore, your friends will all be celebrating their relief that the subject is over, while you’re still hard at work revising.
While preliminary examination dates have some level of flexibility, the O Level exams offer no such privilege. If you do well for your Prelims, it will be an even bigger pity to fall sick on your O Level exam date and perform much more poorly than usual.
11) Take regular breaks while revising.
Some students (you may be included!) get too carried away revising for hours on end and forget to do one of the most important things for efficient revision:
Take a break!
Whenever I see students bragging about their “endurance level” when it comes to how many hours they studied, it always makes me feel a little uneasy, because studying for three and four hours on end is definitely not healthy for your mind or body.
Unlike robots who maintain close to maximum efficiency at all times, our concentration gradually degrades as we study. If you study on for too long, you will feel overly drained and perhaps demoralized and unconfident as you don’t seem to have covered your topics as well as you perhaps should have.
It also risks fostering a more negative attitude towards the work that you are doing which also causes a decrease in time spent doing work and thereby hurting your grades consequentially. A good balance between studying and break time is taking fifteen minutes for every hour of studying to scroll through Instagram, get up and stretch or simply get your mind off the topic for a while.
12) Extreme last moment cramming is a really bad idea.
This approach, called “cramming” is mostly done by those who are unprepared for exams. It is usually a bad idea as students have to burn the midnight oil to cram which costs them their precious sleep and hinders their ability to focus during exams.
Furthermore, cramming causes stress level to build up as well as therefore impeding your ability to recall information which may cost you marks during exams as mentioned earlier. I will recommend doing a periodic review from time to time of what you have learnt so that the information can be retained in your brain as long-term memory. If you are really unsure of your ability to retain information just before the exam, take a quick once over your helpful cheat sheets.
13) Utilize effective memory techniques.
Find a “memory technique” that sticks with you and utilize it to the fullest extent.
Be it drawing flowcharts, using flash cards , reciting the materials over and over again or even teaching your friend in order to reinforce your memory, your memorization technique is crucial towards scoring well for O Levels as you will have plenty of mathematical formulas in physics or many important historical events that you will need to know by heart in history.
That’s our 13 tips on how to score well for O Level exams. To wrap up and emphasize the main points, take regular breaks, don’t over-stress your mind and body, and find a memory technique that works for you and stick with it. That’s all from us at Bright Culture!