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Exams are coming up soon for students in Bulgaria, so we would like to share with you some useful tips for better exam performance!
1. Sleep well the night before the exam
We believe this might be one of the most important things when it comes to better exam performance. To start with, your brain needs a rest before a stressful event (like sitting an exam). Furthermore, a good sleep before an exam will help you focus better during the exam and prevents blanking out and panicking.
2. Prepare for the exam day in advance
The night before the exam day is very important for one more reason. Make a list of everything you should bring with you to the exam (pens, ID, watch, water) as well as prepare your clothes and breakfast so that you don’t lose time for that in the morning. This way you won’t be in a rush to reach the university and you won’t experience additional and unnecessary stress.
3. Bring extra pens and sheets of paper (if you are allowed to)
To start with, don’t forget to bring extra pens! Also, if you are allowed to take notes and if the university does not provide you with extra sheets of paper during the exam, make sure you bring some just in case you need to note down something or you want to simply structure your thoughts. You can also ask your teacher a few days before the exam if you will be provided with extra sheets of paper during the exam.
4. Bring your lucky charm
… if you have one, of course. It can be a ring, a bracelet, a watch… anything, really. Or don’t forget to do your „exam routine“ (something you always do before an exam – wish yourself good luck, text your parents, etc.). This will make you feel calm and confident, especially if you are superstitious.
5. Dress up
…even if the exam is not oral. You might impress the teacher and they will remember your face. This is useful in case you have an oral exam later throughout your studies and/or participation in class gives you extra credits (and teachers already know your face).
6. Follow the exam instructions carefully
Should you write down your name or your student ID number instead? Should you use only a blue pen? What happens if you want to change your answer? How much time do you have? Listen to the instructions before the start of the exam in order to avoid any mistakes that might make your exam paper invalid!
PS: Avoid writing or drawing on the exam papers and answer sheets any signs or small things (e.g. flowers) that make you feel calm but are in no way related to the exam. Sometimes this is taken as a „secret sign“ you give to the examiner, so it might make your exam papers invalid.
7. Always ask if something is not clear
Better safe than sorry! If you don’t know what to do, if something is unclear about the question or you don’t know how to change your answer – always ask the examiner or the teacher who is present! Again, the main point is to avoid mistakes that might lead to failing the exam. And asking doesn’t hurt, right?
8. Organize your exam space
Before you start the exam, make sure that your „exam space“ is well-organized. Don’t have 20 sheets of paper, a watch, a few pens and a few other unnecessary things scattered over the desk. This will prevent panicking in case you can’t find your answer sheet (or anything else you might need) quickly.
9. Believe in yourself!
Don’t forget to start the exam with confidence! Teachers also want you to perform well (they will of course feel satisfied if everyone scores great)! Also, if you studied but you still find the exam hard … the chance that the other students find the exam hard too is quite high. You are not alone in this and sitting an exam is just part of the learning stage, of becoming better and of overcoming difficulties and stress in life!
10. Start with your favourite question
One strategy to start the exam with confidence is to answer your most favourite question first – this way you will gain confidence and believe in your knowledge. Of course, don’t forget that there are other questions too so don’t lose time by writing everything you can think of about your favourite topic.
11. Check all questions and points before you start
The test might consist of several pages – so before you start answering the first question, make sure you have seen how many questions the test has and how many points each answer would give you. This will help you plan your time so that you don’t spend too much time and energy on the first few questions if they are actually the ones that give you the least amount of points.
12. Plan your time
After you check all questions, try to plan your time and decide how much time you will spend per each question. Of course, don’t forget that the last 10 – 15 minutes of your time should be saved for checking your answers and writing them on the answer sheet.
13. Read every question several times
It is normal that you are stressed out during the exam and you are in a hurry to answer all questions. However, these emotions can cause you to misread a question or miss out on an important part of the task you have. Hence, read all questions at least twice to make sure you understand what you should do so that you get the maximum points.
14. If you do not know the answer, skip the question
Don’t spend too much time thinking about an answer you can’t remember right now – move on to the next question. Firstly, the more you focus on the answer you don’t know, the more you will stress out. Secondly, you will save time for questions you know the answers to. Thirdly, you can always go back to the question you don’t know later during the exam when you have time – maybe by that time you would have come up with the answer or another question might have given you a hint for what to answer.
15. Never leave a question blank
… especially if it is a multiple-choice test (try your luck!) or if it is an open-ended question. Of course, this does not mean you should write meaningless explanations, but you can write about something that is related to the respective field – this might get you some points!
16. Stay calm during the exam
The more you stress out, the more you risk blanking out during the exam. As mentioned, if the test is hard for you, it is probably hard for all other students. So try to do your best and focus as much as you can!
17. Don’t be in a hurry
In Bulgaria we have the saying „Fast work is a shame for its master“. An exam takes place so don’t be in a rush to finish it if you want to go home early and rest. Leaving early won’t impress your teacher either (only good results will impress them, of course). Take advantage of every minute you have for the exam and if you have some spare time, you can always check your answers or try to write something more that can give you bonus points.
18. Don’t compare yourself to other students
There will always be that student leaving with a proud face 15 minutes after the exam has started. And there will always be that one student who is writing non-stop for the whole duration of the exam. Don’t compare yourself to others – everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so you never know how much time they need to write an answer, how confident they feel about their knowledge and … if what they write is actually correct or not.
19. Drink water
Don’t forget to drink water during the exam – it will refresh your body and mind and help you stay focused. Of course, always close the water bottle carefully so that you don’t risk spilling water on your exam papers.
20. Keep track of time
Don’t forget to bring a watch (if there is none in the exam hall) so that you keep track of time. This will help you check if you stick to your initial schedule (see point 12) and see if you need to be faster or you can take your time.
Of course, don’t forget that the best tip for better exam performance is … better preparation! The more you study, the higher chance you have for a better grade, so start studying as early as possible. This way you will have time to cover all topics and feel confident about your knowledge!
The team of Inter HECS – Study in Bulgaria wishes good luck for the upcoming exams to all students in Bulgaria!
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