• Ian Gibbs

Exam Tip #10: The Perfect Team


A wise man once said “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.”


The point he was trying to make is that whatever challenge you’re facing, you’ll get along much better if you have support from those around you.


People like Shakira and Ed Sheeran didn’t make it on their own—they had a whole army of producers, managers, assistants and helpers behind them.


Neither did Emma Watson, Elon Musk and Lionel Messi. They all had a great team supporting them all the way.


So who could be on your team?


Let’s assume for a moment you’re not a mega-millionaire who can simply buy themselves a team of supporters.


I recommend ensuring that your team consists of three parts:


Firstly, get together with a couple of colleagues and form a revision group.


Two is good.


Three is ideal—enough for a healthy number of different opinions but not too many. Don’t worry about the academic potential of each member. It doesn’t matter if you are of varying levels, just so long as you’re all going to sit the same exam on the same day.


Being part of a group helps motivation.


It is less likely you’ll postpone a revision session if you’re doing it together.


Sharing and discussing what you’re studying is a great way to understand it (and therefore learn it) better.


If one of you missed a class, or simply doesn’t get it, the others can explain it to them. By doing this, they reinforce their understanding as well.


If you’re all struggling, it’s reassuring that it’s not just you that finds it tough and, when it does click into place, it’s great to celebrate together.


Set out a few ground rules: eg. Stick to the subject. Resist gossiping until after the session.


Set a fixed time. Too long and you’ll be too tired to think clearly and learn effectively.


Try to have an objective for each session. If you have no idea what you’re going to cover before you meet, you’ll waste your time.


A regular revision group will help you focus, stay motivated and learn more effectively.


The second part of your team is your family.


If they can’t help you academically, they can help you by giving you time and space to study.


They can give you support and encouragement.


Family members can make great accountability partners. Grannies are excellent at this. Grannies are born with the ability to make you feel really bad if you don’t keep your promise.


Your family can help wake you up early if needed or supply you with food and drink in your room while you’ve got your head stuck in trigonometry or osteoporosis (Having said this, it’s important to point out that taking regular breaks to stretch your legs and visit the kitchen is important. If you try to concentrate for too long, your brain will tire and stop taking in the material you’re trying to learn).


An elder sibling might be prepared to share their experiences from when they did their exams.


Even a pat on the back at the end of a successful evening can make a difference. It’s good to get a ‘well done’ after a gruelling session. A bit of recognition works wonders.


But you’re unlikely to get all of that unless you ask for it.


Take the initiative and when your family is in a good mood, clearly let them know what you’re doing (preparing for some really important exams) and how they can help. It may seem obvious to you, but is it obvious to them?


Finally, the third part of your team is your teachers. Your teachers are supposed to be neutral and unbiased.


But that doesn’t mean they can’t be on your team. It just means they’re on everybody else’s team, as well.


Some students don’t recognise this.


Your teacher won’t get upset if you ask her for help with something you don’t understand (unless she’s just explained it to you and you weren’t listening).


In fact, if your teacher sees that you are genuinely interested in learning, she’ll be genuinely delighted.


Once you have the three parts of your team, you can combine them more effectively.


Have revision sessions at each other’s homes with food and drinks on demand.


Going to see your teacher as a team allows each of you to remember their version of what was said. Showing you’ve had the initiative to form a revision group is also likely to impress.


So who’s on your team at the moment?


If you’re finding things are becoming too difficult, never be afraid to ask for help.


Whether it’s your friends, your family or your teachers, asking for help isn’t a sign you’re weak or stupid. It’s a sign you recognise your reality and want to improve it to get the best grades

you can.


Tip 10: If you want the best grades possible, get yourself a team of supporters.