1. Give yourself enough time to study
Don’t leave it until the last minute. Set out a timetable for your study. Write down the day of the 11 Plus Exam, then organise your study accordingly to avoid cramming and pressure.
2. Drink plenty of water
Remember that being properly hydrated is essential for your brain to work at its best. If you don’t drink enough water, you may feel tired or get headaches.
Make sure you keep drinking plenty of water throughout your revision, and also on exam day, but be careful not to overdo it, or you might need the toilet during your exam.
Don’t drink too many drinks with caffeine or high sugar content such as colas and energy drinks. If you drink too much caffeine or sugar, you’ll find it difficult to sleep well at night. Drink diluted fruit juices and herbal teas instead.
3. Organise your study space
Try clear your study space of all distractions and make sure you feel as comfortable and able to focus as possible. Make sure you have enough space to spread your books and notes out, and that they’re properly lit so you don’t strain your eyes. Is your chair comfortable? Don’t study in bed as you’ll begin to associate it with studying instead of sleeping. Are your computer games out of sight? This includes logging out of social media and putting your phone on silent.
4. Get good sleep
The best way for your brain to remember what it’s learned is with sleep, so you’ll need a lot of it during exam times. When you’re tired you’ll find it difficult to concentrate and remember. To get the best sleep, don’t look at computer, smartphone or tablet screens for at least an hour before bed, “blue light” keeps you awake. Don’t study right before bedtime too, or you’ll stimulate your brain. When you’ve finished studying for the day, pack your books away, close down study apps, and turn your music off to make a mental break.
For the best sleep, make sure your room is quiet, comfortable and dark.
5. Practice on old exams
One of the most effective ways to prepare for exams is to practice taking past versions. This helps you get used to the format of the questions and build mental fitness. Time yourself to make sure you spend the right amount of time on each section.
Do plenty of physical exercise while you’re studying for exams. Exercise helps oxygen move around your body and your brain needs lots of oxygen to work well. Go outside for a short walk and get some fresh air, go for a swim or meet your friends for a game of football.
7. Take regular breaks
Your brain is like a sponge and needs time to process information, so remember to take regular breaks while you study. Take a 15-minute break after every hour you study. This helps your brain store information, refreshes you for the next stretch of studying, and helps you concentrate.
When you take a break, get up and move about, and don’t feel guilty about being outside enjoying the sunshine. Remember, vitamin D is important for a healthy brain!
8. Snack on ‘brain food’
Keep away from junk food that’s high in sugar and fats. Too much sugar and refined foods can lead to energy slumps and brain fog. Keep your body and brain fuelled with nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, nut butters and wholegrain foods.
Fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and blueberries aid concentration and memory. The same applies on exam day – eat a good meal of protein and wholegrains before the test to provide a slow release of energy throughout. Sugar may seem appealing, but it won’t help when your energy levels crash an hour or so later.
9. Plan your exam day
Make sure you get everything ready well in advance of the exam. Get your bag ready. Do you need to take anything to the exam? Pens? Pencils? A bottle of water? A watch?
Come exam day, you’ll want to keep stress to a minimum. Plan your route and journey time. If possible, do a test run of the trip. Work out how long it will take to get there – then add on some extra time.
On the night before the exam, don’t cram. Do something you enjoy, like listening to music or watching TV before you go to bed. This will help you relax. Go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.
10. Good luck!
The more you prepare, the luckier you get.