Testing times to come

Sunshine Coast Grammar student Courtney Angel hitting the books ready for the end of year exams.
Sunshine Coast Grammar student Courtney Angel hitting the books ready for the end of year exams. Jason Dougherty

PARENTS and students are battening down the hatches for the upcoming end-of-year exam season.

Stress levels are on the rise as university and high school students face the next few months of exams, assignments and late nights.

Students are encouraged to rein in the last-minute cramming sessions and instead try to plan their study over several weeks.

Sunshine Coast Grammar School Year 12 student Courtney Angel takes six subjects and spends up to two hours each day on study.

Courtney has undertaken subjects including mathematics B, modern history and biology, and tries hard to balance her part-time job with her extra-curricular activities and study.

She is a member of the school dance team, plays for basketball and netball teams and is in the school band.

“The amount I study varies, depending on what exams and assessment I have, but on weeknights I try to do about two hours of assignments and study,” she said.

“It's all about time management.

“If you can do that, then you'll be fine.”

She credited the school with helping students to develop good studying skills, and said her school had provided students with plenty of options.

Nambour tutor Linda Contarino said kids shouldn't be afraid to ask for help, and needed to look for resources that worked for them.

“Use the libraries, and the librarians, things like that,” she said.

“There are a lot of good resources that kids and parents don't know about.”

She said students needed to prioritise all of their assessment and work harder on the more important areas.

She said too many students took the wrong approach and worked just as hard on smaller assignments as they did the larger ones.

She stressed that students needed to know what was expected of them by reading guidelines thoroughly and asking questions.

“A lot of people think they can do it all on their own, but they need to follow the unit guidelines,” she said.

She also said students should cut back their work hours, but that she was disappointed about the lack of financial support available for university students.

“For students who spend six hours at university a week, they should be spending at least 18 hours of work at home as well,” she said. It's a full time commitment.”

University of the Sunshine Coast academic skills advisor Margot Reeh said the amount of time university students spent revising should be at least two hours per week for each subject throughout the semester.

She said university students would be stressed out as the end of the semester approached, as they had to balance their revision with assignment work.

“Their focus is not on revision, just on keeping up with the material,” she said.

She agreed with Ms Contarino and said students needed to spread their workload over the year to avoid as much stress as possible.

“The last few weeks leading up to the exams are really the last little bit of the process,” she said.

She urged students to ask as many questions as possible where there were gaps in their knowledge. As part of their preparation, she said students should practise answering questions in the same time frame as the exams.

For students nervous about the tests, she stressed that preparation was their best option.

Sue Warner, from Aldon Tutoring in Buderim and Caloundra, said students' best defence was to prepare ahead of the exams.

She said the best students could often spend up to four hours studying each night, and students should develop those skills early in high school.

“Students need to develop good work habits from about Grade 9,” she said.

The biggest downfalls for students were distractions such as music and phone calls, and she said parents should try to limit those distractions.



Tidy work area: Where you study has a huge impact on how you study. Having a tidy desk means you'll spend more time studying and less time looking for things. The area should be well-lit and quiet.

Switch off your phone: Checking your phone for messages and phone calls is distracting and wastes time. Turn off your phone and avoid the internet if possible.

To-do lists: Make a list for each subject of what you need to learn and what you have trouble with. Breaking assessment into smaller tasks will make it less overwhelming.

Take regular breaks: Stretching for 10 minutes every hour will help you focus more on studying and will help you learn better.

Don't re-read: Revise and learn what you are studying. Reading through notes is tedious and often doesn't help. Use summaries, dot points and prompts to help learn.

Ask questions: Teachers and tutors can help develop a better way to learn if you have trouble with a subject. Keep asking questions until you completely understand the topic.

Know your style: Some people learn by listening. Some people learn by writing things down. Some people learn visually. Find out what works for you, and stick to it.

Study groups: Studying with other people can help keep you focused and motivated. You are more likely to study if someone else is waiting for you.


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