Let's be real. There are other things both you and I would rather be doing than sat inside studying for exams the whole time.
Yep, I may be 'The Exam Coach', but I'm not going to pretend exams are the be all and end all in life. They do not define who you are and what you will do with your life.
But, what they can do, is help you build some useful life skills such as organisation, time management, delivering to a deadline and the ability to handle pressurised situations. The grades you achieve also help to open up doors to places (think college and university) where you will have the opportunity to gain important reference experiences with other groups of ambitious and positive people. These experiences will come in useful later down the line.
What you nor I can escape is that everyone has to do exams at some point. It's up to you whether you think exams are worth doing well in or not (if you're interested in this debate, here's my view on it). If you'd like to discover your potential in the exam room - this is where I can help you.
"It's not about the grades. It's about the person you become in the pursuit of those grades".
- James Davey, The Exam Coach
Essentially, I transitioned from someone who was easily distracted, attention seeking and generally lacking direction, to the reverse of all of these. No more passing notes, chewing gum, turning up late, acting the class clown and not caring about my potential.
For me, this shift happened between the age of 15-16. It was GCSE year (the exams everyone has to take in the UK) and I had just had some pretty poor reports come through (check out the video above). Both in terms of effort and my scores. But I also knew that GCSE year was the when exam results started to officially 'count' and contribute towards your longer term prospects.
I knew I had a very competitive streak in me as I'd mainly focussed on sports up to my mid-teens. I hated losing in sports yet, for some reason, I was indifferent to losing in the classroom. This distinction made me understand that being competitive was actually something I should apply to my studies if I wanted to improve my results. So I committed to testing some changes in my approach with a view to producing some winning results.
First, I applied some of the basic techniques I knew the pro athletes I looked up to practiced. They stuck to routines, trained hard, focussed on their own improvement and persisted until they had achieved what they set out to do. I started with small changes and built up 'the new way I did things' over time.
Eventually I saw that with a good routine and discipline you can fit in many other things you like doing. In fact, the more extra curricular, social or sporting activities I took on, the more organised and efficient I became, the better the results I produced across the board.
So, it's my aim to help coach you through the building of your own routine with a focus on exam success but also allowing you to do the other hobbies and activities you like doing. You can have it all. I think this was one of the biggest hurdles I needed to get over; understanding that routine, organisation and having a lot to do actually gives you freedom to enjoy many things. I never fully understood this concept back when I was finding school work challenging. I know, it’s counterintuitive, but it really does work!
Below I've detailed The Exam Coach approach to exams, it's simply called 'The Exam Coach Way'. It's not for everyone, but if you require a clear roadmap to exam success that's what it is. Execute the stages, improve and refine your approach day by day and you will achieve your exam goals.
THE EXAM COACH WAY
The Exam Coach Way of studying for and performing well in your exams consists of three stages:
STAGE 1: FOUNDATION
This stage is about ensuring you are mentally primed for exam success. We work on areas such as:
Whether you think exams are a valuable, life-skill building exercise
Your ability to set goals and put a plan together to achieve them
Your skill in making the micro-decisions around your daily routine which accumulate to create progress
Your ability to control where you invest your time and attention in a world often experienced through the smartphone
STAGE 2: UNDERSTANDING
This stage is about understanding and memorising the information you will need to be able to apply in an exam situation:
Prioritising revision techniques proven to improve memory recall. For example, active recall, spaced repetition and memory stacking.
Setting up systems to prioritise speed and quality of study over ‘vanity metrics’ such as neatness of notes or how long you've studied for per day.
Understanding the exams you are taking, how they are set up and what the examiner wants to see. How the exam paper, syllabus and mark scheme can be viewed as a collective and how you can navigate your way to success.
STAGE 3: NAILING IT
This stage is about the performance aspect of exams. It's about walking into the exam room and nailing a top performance on a consistent basis:
Setting up solid routines pre, during and post exams to ensure consistent and predictable performance
How to perform and think clearly under pressure
Exam technique (how to complete each paper accurately, within the allotted time)
This 3 Step approach is both achievable and challenging for students. It requires commitment, discipline and a positive attitude. A lot of this is built through the process of studying for and executing a top exam performance. If you'd like to get more of a sense of ways in which you can begin implementing and testing The Exam Coach Way of taking exams I have 3 recommendations for you:
Check out The Exam Coach social media feeds which release a steady stream of motivation and useful content related to exams, career planning and smartphone management. I'd recommend Snapchat in particular, it's by far my most active channel.
Take a look at the The 7 Day Exam Plan.
Invite me into speak at your school or institution. Click here for more information.