Are practice exams really worth doing?

One of the most common study tips for exam revision is for learners to do practice exams. These practice exams could be past papers that your school has used, past papers from the Department of Education or even practice exam questions such as the ones found in the Ace it! study guides.

We have recommended doing practice exams for all of the different learning styles, as they are a great way to get an understanding of what you can expect in the exams. For visual learners, they are a good way to write out what you know in a format that will suit the exam. For auditory learners, they present an opportunity to practise channelling what you know into an exam-appropriate format and, for kinaesthetic learners, they are a great way to revise because you’re actually doing something rather than just revising content. This can make the information stick in your mind more clearly.

Aside from this, what are the benefits of doing practice exams as part of your exam revision?

Well, first of all, they are a great way to familiarise yourself with the exam format. Each exam you write will have a predictable format. You need to know what this looks like before you walk into the exam room so that you feel less stressed and anxious. Doing practice exams will help you to understand how the exam will look when it is put in front of you, and it gives you an opportunity to practise answering the questions in a way that will score you the maximum number of marks. Most practice exams come with a memo, which you can use to mark your efforts – this will show you when you’ve answered too little, too much, too broadly or not broadly enough.

Secondly, practice exams can help you to understand the question words. So many learners know the content but fail to understand exactly what the question is asking them to do (this often applies to auditory learners in particular). Examiners are given a very clear marking memo, so it’s essential that you are answering the question correctly – not only in terms of the content but also in terms of what the examiner wants to see. For example, if the question asks you to “List…” you should not write a descriptive paragraph. Working with practice exams and their memos can help you refine this skill.

Lastly, practice exams can help to show up any gaps in your exam revision. You may think that you have covered all of your bases only to find that you actually don’t know enough about a particular topic in order to be able to answer questions on it in the exam. It’s essential that you build in time on your study timetable to do practice exams. Try to avoid doing this the day before the actual exam though, because that will not give you enough time to self-correct and go back to a particular section.

As you can see, practice exams are an essential part of exam revision. That’s why every Ace it! study guide contains practice exam questions.

Tips for kinaesthetic learners

This is the last post in a three-part series, where we explore study techniques for the three main learning styles. If you aren’t sure what your unique learning style is, click here to find out. If you are a visual learner, click here for study techniques to suit that learning style. And if you are an auditory learner, click here.

So you’ve done the quiz and you’ve figured out that you have a kinaesthetic learning style.

To recap: People with a kinaesthetic learning style learn best when they are able to manipulate, engage with or actually do the thing that they’re learning about. If you find that you’re unable to fully grasp content unless you can touch and explore it, then you’re probably a kinaesthetic learner.

Here are some study techniques that you could try. These techniques help kinaesthetic learners to make sense of content and concepts by making sure that your brain engages with information in a way that it can process.

Do something while you study

Because you are easily distracted, it’s a good idea to do something while you’re studying. Fidget spinners are the latest trend but a good old-fashioned stress ball or simple elastic band will also do the trick. You could also take your notes to the gym, and try to get some studying in while you’re walking on the treadmill. You could also just pace up-and-down wherever you are studying.

The point is that your attention needs to be on your study notes, so calm your inner fidget by giving it something to do while your brain focuses on the important stuff!

Practise HIST (High Intensity Study Intervals)

Because you are easily distracted, it’s no use trying to get a straight four hours of studying in. You will only end up frustrated. Rather study in short but effective bursts. This gives you an opportunity to focus on the task at hand, knowing that a 5-10 minute break is coming up.

Set a timer for 25 minutes and use the 25 minutes to give your revision all of your energy and attention. Once the buzzer goes, set another timer for 5-10 minutes (no longer!). Use this time to do whatever you like – make a sandwich, make a call or take a quick swim. Then go back and do another round. Do this until you’ve hit your study target for the day.

Prepare a presentation

Pretend that you are the only person in your class that has received the study notes. It is your responsibility to teach the content and skills to the rest of your class. Prepare a presentation on what they need to know. Use any presentation aids that you choose: PowerPoint, flipcharts, flash cards, etc. The act of putting the presentation together will help to solidify the content in your mind.

Take a look at this post: Tips for auditory learners, where we discuss putting together a study club. A study club is the perfect audience for a presentation like this. And, best of all, you’ll be helping learners with different learning styles (like an auditory learning style) at the same time too!

Watch videos and tutorials online

Long written descriptions will probably bore you, and you will end up not fully grasping complex content and concepts. Use YouTube and other reputable educational websites to find explanatory videos. This will go a long way to helping you decode the content.

It is also a good idea to look for online tutorials on DIY projects. This method won’t necessarily suit all of your subjects but you may be surprised how many fun and interesting projects there are online to help you with your learning. An example might be to build a DNA model to help you understand the helix structure (Life Sciences).

Here is a good example of this type of project:

(We have a full post on study techniques using technology coming up on the blog so look out for that.)

Use rhythm and rhyme

(This study technique is also suitable for auditory learners.)

Mnemonics (pronounced ni-mon-iks) are a great way to remember lists of facts or information, and are ideal for kinaesthetic learners because the act of making something up yourself often makes it easier to remember. Have fun making up your own mnemonics to remember certain facts.

For example, a good way to remember the three main learning styles might be to remember this rhyme: Vuyo Kicks Ants. (V = visual, K = kinaesthetic, A = auditory)

TIP: Try not to depend on mnemonics too much as a study technique, as you may end up forgetting which mnemonic to use!

How to use your Ace it! study guide

Hopefully this post has given you some good ideas about study techniques to use when you’re a kinaesthetic learner. Don’t forget that the Ace it! study guides have all the content you need to know for your exams.

Here’s how a kinaesthetic learner can use the Ace it! study guides to their best advantage:

  • Use the practice exam questions. Practice exams are a great tool for kinaesthetic learners.
  • Prepare your own quiz based on the content in the study guide.
  • Use sticky notes to remember which mnemonic to use for which section. And sing/chant your mnemonic out loud with actions and clapping for maximum impact!