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The Ultimate Exam Study Guide

What we’re talking about this time

Exam time can be a stressful experience, especially if there’s a lot riding on the results, so we want your teen to go in prepared, confident, and calm.

Forward this email on to any teen you know who’s about to enter the exam room, whether for the first time or not.

It’s a big one, but it is jam-packed with helpful tips and information. A very big thanks to Coach Prajesh for compiling this guide!

And if you’ve got a student not doing exams yet, but who will be next year, it’s a perfect time to get them started on our Exam Ready course.

Get Exam Ready – it’s just $55 for a full year

A Thrive Guide to Acing Exams: Study Smarter, Not Harder

Kia ora, all you legendary students of Aotearoa! Whether you’re as calm as a kiwi or feeling as nervous as a possum caught in headlights about your final exams, we’ve got your back. We know the importance of striking a balance between serious study and a good chuckle. So, grab your jandals and join us on this journey to exam success.

But remember that it’s all part of a journey. Exams are challenging and sometimes things don’t go to plan, but these moments are not the sole markers of your potential. Think of them as checkpoints in a much larger adventure.

Stay determined, stay resilient – and keep your sense of humour.

Tip 1: “BYO Brain Fuel”

Remember, brains need kai. Make sure you stock up on some brain-boosting snacks like fruit and veggies, yoghurt, and nuts. Just don’t OD on V, or your exam might turn into a blooper reel.

Tip 2: “Get Your Sheep Together”

Organisation is key! Use a planner or a trusty smartphone app to keep your study schedule in check. List your tasks, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, count sheep for a quick dose of Zen before tackling your to-do list.

Tip 3: “Mindset Kiwi Style”

Cultivate the right mindset. Visualise success, get some fresh air, and remind yourself that with the correct preparation you will be fine.

Tip 4: “Choice Resources”

Find the resources that are choice for you. Whether it’s a textbook, online videos, or your Uncle Bruce’s old notes, use what works best and makes sense to you. Remember, it’s not the quantity but the quality that counts.

Tip 5: “Kia Ora to Breaks”

Taking breaks is as essential as a dip in the ocean during summer. Schedule regular breaks to recharge. Go for a quick walk, or have a laugh with your mates. Laughter is the best stress-buster, after all! Do the things that recharge you!

Tip 6: “Bring Out the Number 8 Wire”

Kiwis are known for their resourcefulness, so if you get stuck, think like a number 8 wire inventor. Get creative, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to try new approaches to solve problems.

Tip 7: “Pānui Tō Tahi – Read Aloud”

To cement your learning, read your notes aloud. Your vocal cords will thank you, and your brain will remember better. See if you can explain it to someone else – it’s the best way to check how well you understand the material.

Tip 8: “Kia Kaha! – Stay Strong”

During the exam, remember to stay calm, take deep breaths, and keep that Kiwi kaha (strength). Think of it as a sports game or a competition – you’ve trained, and now it’s time to tackle those questions one at a time.

Tip 9: “Find Your Study Style”

Ever wonder how to make studying less ‘ugh’ and more ‘aha’? Well, it’s all about finding your study style, just like choosing your favourite ice cream flavour. Whether you need silence as your trusty study sidekick or love the company of your friends, identifying your learning style early on can be your secret weapon.

  • Visual Learners: If you’re a visual learner, you probably doodle your way through notes, add more colours than a rainbow, and turn everything into a visually stunning masterpiece. Graphs, charts, and illustrations are your jam.

  • Audio Aficionados: Audio learners thrive when they’re listening to the sweet sounds of knowledge. Audiobooks and podcasts are your go-to study buddies.

  • Physical Learners: Love a good hands-on approach? Engage in activities and interactive learning experiences to help you remember information. It’s like turning study time into a mini-adventure.

  • Verbal and Logical: For those who love words and logic, write, debate, and discuss your way to understanding. Your mind is a verbal gymnast, flipping through ideas like a pro.

  • Social Butterflies and Solitary Stars: Whether you prefer a study group or flying solo, cater your study sessions to your social needs. It’s all about finding your perfect study squad (or just having a chat with yourself).

Tip 10: “Take Notes – Old School Style”

Think typing is the bee’s knees? Well, you might want to consider going old-school with pen and paper. Writing engages your brain in a way that typing can’t quite match. It’s like a secret handshake that your brain remembers.

When you jot down notes by hand, your brain gets active during the process, focusing on producing the shapes of each letter. It’s like a little brain workout. But when you type, it’s like your brain takes a coffee break. The magic happens when you reread your handwritten notes – it triggers memories of the information being processed before. It’s like déjà vu for your brain.

So, grab your trusty pen, and scribble your way to success. It’s not just about what you write; it’s about how your brain dances to the rhythm of ink on paper.

Tip 11: “Master Memory Techniques”

Now, onto the secret sauce of learning – memory techniques. These are like little memory ninjas that help you remember stuff. You can choose your favourite, and you don’t even need a black belt to wield them:

  • Associations: Link hard-to-remember facts with familiar things or stories. It’s like making your own mental treasure map.

  • Sketches: Draw little doodles or diagrams next to those tricky facts. Your brain loves visuals, and this is like creating a memory comic book.

  • Acronyms: Turn those complicated concepts into catchy acronyms. It’s like creating your own secret code to unlock knowledge.

And don’t forget about the ninja of study techniques, “Spaced Repetition.” This technique helps your brain absorb knowledge deep within your long-term memory. It’s like giving your brain a chance to marinate in the knowledge juices. So, space out your study sessions and let your memory ninja do its work.

A Crash Course In Revising

Right, so you’ve got your game plan, you’ve rounded up your study gear, and now it’s time to actually dive into the mysterious world of studying. But hold on, ‘studying’ is about as vague as the lifespan of a jandal, and it turns out that even those top-achieving students might not be the true study gurus they seem. Yeah, that’s right – just because someone’s scoring excellences, it doesn’t mean they’ve got the secret study sauce.

But we’ve got to keep it real. Becoming a master of studying takes time, and we might not have months to perfect the craft. So, let’s fast-track our way to some study methods that work like a shot of L&P.

If you’re feeling as lost as a gumboot in a sand dune when it comes to studying, we’ve got some basic, yet incredibly effective, methods you can try out right now. We’ll even sort  them by skill levels, so you can pick where you fit – beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Give them a go!


  • YouTube Notes: Watch a couple of YouTube videos on your topic and take notes using your own words. After that, grab a friend (or talk to yourself, because that’s a totally normal thing to do) and pretend you’re a YouTube guru explaining the concepts. Just don’t forget to hit the “like” button on your brain.

  • Research Buff: Find a concept that’s about as clear as mud to you. Then, hit up different sources like your textbook, a website article, or your PowerPoint slides from class to understand it. Keep digging until you can confidently explain it without breaking a sweat.


  • Brain Dump: Choose a topic and jot down every relevant idea you can remember. If it’s English, scribble down characters, themes, and plot points. For maths, list those skills and when to use them. When you’ve emptied your brain, use your notes to fill in the blanks.

  • Question Quest: Challenge your memory with short, specific questions. You know, those quick textbook ones that hit the same skill again and again. If you don’t have a textbook, Google’s your mate – find some questions and fire away with those answers.


  • Exam Time Warp: Attempt a past exam paper without the safety net of your notes. Time yourself like you’re in the real deal, and then go full out and mark your own answers. Find a few spots where you could’ve done better and rewrite those answers with the improvements.

  • Excellence Hunt: Hunt down two or three excellence-level concepts for each standard. Test yourself on these beauties, and if you get confused, use a marking schedule or answer sheet to talk yourself through it. If you’re still feeling a bit wobbly, revisit your notes or SciPads. Think of it as your personal hunt for knowledge treasures.

Tip 12: “Tackling Exam Stress Like a Pro”

We get it – exams can be as nerve-wracking as trying to parallel park during rush hour. But no worries, here are some tips to help you tackle those butterflies in your stomach:

  • Breathe in, Breathe out: When stress creeps in, take a deep, slow breath in through your nose for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for a count of four. Repeat as needed.

  • Stay Active: Get your daily dose of exercise. A brisk walk or a quick game of touch rugby, social netball, a gym session, a run can help you release built-up tension.

  • Practice Mindfulness: Give meditation a shot. It’s like a Taranaki sunset for your thoughts – calming and breath-taking.

  • Sleep Well: Ensure you get enough sleep; it’s your secret weapon for staying sharp during exams.

  • Don’t Go Full Hobbit: Avoid pulling an all-nighter before an exam. Get some good rest, and wake up refreshed and ready to conquer the test.

  • Use Positive Affirmations: Replace self-doubt with self-belief. Tell yourself, “I can do it,” or “I’ve prepared well,” just like an All Black before a match.

Tip 13: “Family: Your Secret Study Allies”

  • Communication is Key: Have an open and honest conversation with your family about the importance of your exams and how their support can make a difference. Share your goals, fears, and expectations with them.

  • Set Clear Expectations: Discuss with your family what you need from them. Whether it’s a quiet study environment, help with chores, or occasional encouragement, clarity helps everyone be on the same page.

  • Create a Study Schedule Together: Involve your family in creating your study schedule. This way, they know when you’ll be busy and can plan around your study sessions.

  • Family Study Time: Dedicate some family time for studying. You can all sit down together with your books, and it can be a bonding experience. Even if your family members aren’t studying, their presence can be motivating.

  • Let Them Quiz You: Ask your family to help you study by quizzing you on different topics. It can be a fun way to test your knowledge and involve your loved ones.

  • Healthy Snack Support: Request some healthy snacks and refreshments when you’re studying. It’s a small way for your family to show they care.

  • Reward System: Discuss a reward system with your family. For example, if you achieve your study goals, you can plan a fun family outing after exams as a celebration.

  • Emotional Support: When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, don’t hesitate to lean on your family for emotional support. Sometimes, a listening ear or a pep talk from a loved one can work wonders.

  • Celebrate Small Wins: Share your successes, no matter how small, with your family. They’ll appreciate being a part of your journey and cheering you on.

Tip 14: “Nailing Exam Day”

  • Arrive Early and Prepared: Just like an eager surfer waiting for a beach sunrise in Gisborne, arrive early to your exam venue. It helps you stay calm and collected. Know what you’ll need (like your calculator) and make sure you’ve got everything. You can never bring too many pens!

  • Read Instructions: First things first, read the instructions carefully. Make sure you know what’s expected before diving into your answers.

  • Plan Your Time: Allocate time wisely. Decide how much time you’ll spend on each section and stick to it.

  • Easy Wins First: Start with the easy questions. These are like the low-hanging fruit; pick them first to boost your confidence.

  • Don’t Panic: If you get stuck on a tough question, move on and come back to it later.

  • Stay Hydrated: Just as you keep hydrated during a tramp in the bush, make sure to drink water during the exam to keep your brain sharp.

  • Review Your Work: Once you’ve finished, go back and review your answers. It’s your chance to fine-tune, like an artist adding finishing touches to a masterpiece.

Tip 15: “Dealing with Exam Disappointments Like a Champ”

  • Don’t Panic: If you open your exam paper and it’s not what you expected, take a deep breath. Don’t let panic set in; it won’t change the outcome.

  • Avoid Negative Self-Talk: It’s natural to be disappointed, but don’t beat yourself up. Avoid negative self-talk and remember that one exam doesn’t define your worth or your future.

  • Analyse Your Mistakes: Take a close look at your mistakes. What went wrong? Was it a time management issue, a misunderstanding of the question, or something else? Identifying the root cause is the first step to improvement.

  • Keep Perspective: Remember that setbacks happen to everyone. Even the great Sir Edmund Hillary didn’t conquer Everest on his first try. It’s a journey with ups and downs.

  • Talk to Your Support System: Share your feelings with your family or friends. They can provide emotional support and help you see the bigger picture.

Get Exam Ready – it’s just $55 for a full year

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