Are your students preparing for an exam like The International Certificate (PTE General)? If so, you might find that they’re more stressed than usual or are beginning to lack motivation. When you’re helping your students prepare to take an exam, it’s easy to overlook the fact that they also need to destress and relax a little.
Exam preparation is an important period. That’s why we’ve come up with some tips and advice that will help increase their happiness and well-being. It will also help you ensure your students develop good study habits and remain happy right up to their exam and beyond.
Your students can sign up for the complete 7-day Exam Prep Happiness Plan here!
1. Create a study plan
A clear plan will help students get off to a positive start. At the same time, it will inevitably lead to more confidence and better results on the big day. Encourage students to gather all the materials and equipment they will need. Once they are prepared, they should set up a comfortable workspace where they will feel happy to spend time. You can even ask your students to describe their ideal study spaces in class – this will help them visualise what they need to do at home!
Students should also create a schedule where they write down what they need to work on and when. Try to ensure they include all areas of the exam, but prioritise those they feel they need to work on more.
For a detailed analysis of your students’ strengths and weaknesses with personal recommendations for each student, check out our Readiness Test. This shorter test is suitable for students who are preparing to take The International Certificate or a similar English language proficiency test.
2. Take time out
If your students are starting to feel anxious or stressed as the exam day comes nearer, show them how to relax and remain positive right up to the day of the exam. Here are some ideas:
Take a break
Remind students that it’s better to study for short periods rather than spending hours on end at their desk. They should break up their study periods and take a short break at regular intervals. If possible, they should also go outside and get some fresh air at least once a day.
Try mindfulness techniques
Guided meditation apps such as Headspace or Petit BamBou can help reduce stress and prepare students to focus better on their studies. You can also find guided meditation video and audio tracks on Youtube or Spotify.
Discover more in our article: Does mindfulness really work? And can it help your students?
Remind students how far they’ve progressed and celebrate what they can do. Encourage them to visualise themselves confidently completing the exam.
3. Have fun!
Although exam practice and review is an important part of preparing for an exam, you can also allow students to have some fun. Play games in class and base activities around a variety of different media, including short videos and podcasts and other forms of entertainment.
Encourage students to make English a part of their leisure time. They can watch series or films in English, listen to music or choose podcasts related to their interests. Encourage them to look for English-language alternatives to any materials or media they usually consume.
4. Stay healthy
The stress caused by exams can result in students eating unhealthily – fast food, snacks and caffeine can provide a false sense of energy. However, the food we eat and drink can have a large effect on both our body and mind. A healthy diet can improve our mood, our memory and our levels of concentration.
Healthy carbs such as brown rice, pasta, whole grain bread and cereals will provide necessary energy to allow students to keep working through the day. Oily fish like salmon and sardines are great for the brain, heart and joints, as well as increasing serotonin which makes us feel good! Other sources of Omega 3 such as nuts and seeds are a great substitute for vegans. And of course, a variety of fruits and vegetables will ensure that students have a balanced diet that will improve memory, brainpower and mental agility.
5. Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is essential for learning to take place. The time students spend asleep is actually just as important as the time they spend awake. They should aim to sleep for 8 hours a night. This will help their brains to recharge, allowing them to start the day with energy and focus.
It’s especially important that students sleep well the day before the exam. This will help them relax and ensure that they are alert and ready to give their best performance.
6. Offer incentives
If your students are studying intensively or for a long period of time, their motivation levels may start to drop. When you see this is the case, your class will need some additional support and encouragement to help them keep going.
Small rewards can help with this. You can offer rewards in class by allowing students to choose an activity they enjoy, but it’s also useful for students to give themselves rewards for any goals they set and accomplish. This personalisation will make the reward even more satisfying. Small rewards include things like listening to your favourite song, eating a sweet treat or watching a funny video.
7. Reduce the workload
As the exam approaches, encourage students to gradually slow down. Rather than trying to learn something new, they should spend the last few days reviewing what they’ve studied and practise English as much as they can. On the day before the exam, encourage students to do something completely different, like go for a long walk or watch a good film.
Why not discuss our seven happiness and well-being tips with your students in class and see which ideas they find useful? Ask students to share what works for them and what changes they would like to make to their lifestyle and study habits.
Finally, invite them to subscribe to the complete 7-day Exam Prep Happiness Plan.