Study tips: learn how to love your assessments 

We spoke to an AAT tutor: Gill Myers, memory expert: Michael Tipper and stress coach: Sarah Connell about the best ways to love assessments .

The AAT tutor – Gill Myers

Don’t cram during the month before the assessment

The synoptics are at the end of each qualification but, if you leave revision until the end, you’ll be scuppered. Revise as you go along instead.

Engage with the material as you learn, week by week

You need more than six hours of course materials a week. Get into the habit of spending six hours studying in addition to that.

Revise the things you don’t like

We tend to do what we feel comfortable with. Instead, seek out what you don’t like doing.

Among the best things students can use to revise are the examiners’ reports, which are available on aat.org.uk. These focus on what students struggle with, plus common pitfalls.

There is no best way to revise

I handwrite revision notes and sticky notes, but I know students who watch YouTube videos, have mind maps stuck on walls, and record notes and listen to them while commuting. Do what works for you.

The memory expert –  Michael Tipper

Visual, audio or experience?

We learn in one of three ways – seeing, hearing or experiencing.

I need to picture and visualise things to understand them, so I write notes in different colours or try to see if equations resemble funny characters. If your modality is hearing, try making a little song or sound based on the formula. It’s much better than repeating the formula. Why? Because you’re thinking about it.

Play at being teacher

As the synoptic nears, get into groups of three or four and take turns to ‘teach’. You learn so much by teaching, as you’re conversing and talking about the subject.

Don’t forget to sleep

The brain processes information overnight, so get a good night’s sleep. If you pull an all-nighter before an assessment, you won’t give your brain a chance to integrate the information. This creates the physiology of fight or flight, which shuts down part of the memory and creates assessment stress.

The stress coach – Sarah Connell

Banish negative thoughts

As assessments near, many students think they’re going to screw up. If you have these thoughts, challenge them. Think: what evidence do I have for this? And: is this thinking really helpful? You’ll soon find there’s little evidence to support such thoughts. Try replacing them by repeating positive, helpful statements, like ‘I know I’ve studied really hard’.

Use your cranium’s crystal ball

Visualisation is a really helpful technique. Imagine yourself being confident during and after the assessment, and also receiving your results. Engage all your senses. What noises will you hear when getting the results? What will you be smelling or wearing? Make it as vivid as possible.

Deep breaths

If you’re feeling stressed before the assessment, try a mindfulness breathing exercise. Take a deep breath in, saying to yourself ‘This is my in breath’, and then ‘This is my out breath’ on the way out. Repeat for up to 20 minutes, and it will slow your breathing down and lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

Browse the full range of AAT study support resources here

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