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The Secret Formula to Ace Your Exams

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Exams are approaching… you’re still not confident to do well. No matter how much home tuition you have or how many hours of effort you put into studying, it seems that you’re headed towards impending failure.

Yes, it’s the time of the year students hate the most. 

Don’t sweat too much though, most students feel this way at this time of the year. After all. studying for major examinations like PSLE, O level and A level is much more demanding and stressful than taking school tests. With MOE increasing the difficulty of subjects, working hard alone is simply not good enough. You need a strategy.

We surveyed 50 top ex-students from various top schools including Raffles Junior College and Hwa Chong Instituition, and managed to dig out 14 study secrets that helped these elite students achieve results that most average students cannot even imagine themselves achieving.

In this article, we’ll teach you EXACTLY how to come up with an absolutely effective study schedule that will increase your productiveness by more than 100%, and provide killer tips and techniques that will allow you to implement it easily in order to ace your exams! Sounds good?

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Break Down Each Subject Into Topics

Categorisation of Subjects into Topics

So let’s get started with the basics! In order to prepare for exams, you need to know exactly which courses and topics are included. Therefore, take a piece of paper for each subject you have and start writing all the topics that will be coming in the exams.  Assigning a color to each subject will also come in handy.

Now that you have listed all the topics, you need to calculate the number of days you have until the exam. This will let you know how many topics per subject you need to cover each day. The principle here is that what gets measured, gets managed!

Prioritizing Subjects

​Now since everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses it’s important that you do not give equal precedence to each subject. You must prioritize according to your difficulty level. If Physics is something that you already have a good understanding of then it’s better to give more time to Chemistry, the subject that you know requires more practice and focus.

Set Daily and Weekly Targets

Setting targets

The thing with setting study goals is that you have to make sure that they’re specific and address the exact topic that needs your attention. For example, if circular motion is something you lack understanding of then you need to set your target to read circular motion topic from page 15-25. The more specific you’re the more quickly you will be able to act upon your goals.

Build Momentum


Some people suggest starting with the topic you struggle most with, but if you’re someone who suffers from procrastinating habits then it’s better to start with something you find relatively easy and then build on that momentum. It is better also to schedule harder tasks in the middle rather than in the end.

Choose Quality over Quantity


It’s important to track your progress as you follow your schedule but be sure to track by the number of tasks completed not by the number of hours studied. Furthermore, do not assign a fixed number of hours to each course rather allocate a number of tasks to each subject. Placing your schedule in a visible location can also help you increase your effectiveness.

Reward Yourself


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​We all love getting good grades but sometimes are minds need much quicker rewards, so rewarding yourself for achieving a task can surely be very effective in keeping you motivated and concentrated. One ASEAN scholar told us that when he mugged for his A levels, he kept a jar of chocolate chip cookies nearby to eat after every exam paper or subject topic he finished. For all you gluttons out there, this could work perfectly as a motivational hack… just don’t cheat!

Mix Things Up


​Never study any subject for too long because after a certain number of hours you will lose interest and will greatly reduce the amount of content you can retain. Switching subjects so that you don’t get bored fixating on a single topic or subject is a good practice to adopt.  Switch between subjects after every two hours, maximum.

Concentration is Key: Minimize Distractions


​30 minutes of focused time is far better than an hour of studying while surfing through Facebook. In order to minimize distraction choose a place where you’re most unlikely to be disturbed. Try to keep your gadgets including your laptop and mobile outside the room unless you need them to study. Hey, we know what you’re thinking… well don’t kid yourself, you can use the kitchen timer 😉

Schedule Breaks


No matter how quickly we all want to finish syllabus, it’s important to take the time to just relax. Breaks can play a crucial role in helping you do that. Try going for a small walk around the house or snacking up on a Mars bar. Sugar can give an energy boost, but try avoiding eating too much. For every hour or so of studying take a ten to fifteen minutes break.

Set a Timer

Rest from Tuition

​Setting a timer to go off after small intervals can act as deadlines for smaller tasks. This is scientifically proven to help increase focus and reduce distraction. Dividing a task into chunks of ten minutes can help you do more in less time. One of the most popular techniques that encompass this idea is thePomodoro technique.

Have Flexibility in Schedule

Private Tuition Plan

​Your schedule should neither be too intense nor too easy, so have a room for the spontaneous activities that sometimes arise. Since no matter how much you plan, unpredictable things will happen and having some flexibility in your schedule will help you cope with them with ease.

When Are You Most Fresh?

Best Tuition Times

​Ask yourself this question and find out whether early mornings work best for your or late nights, whatever is the case try to adjust your routine accordingly. Both timings work well because there is nothing that requires your immediate attention – distractions are at the lowest. We recommend mornings as it is scientifically proven that waking up early is good for your health and keeps you in a happier mood.

Consistent Reviewing

Reviewing Studies

​A good habit to adopt would be to always review the previous day learning’s when starting, not a full blown review, but a quick scan and a bit of skimming would be sufficient to revive back the ideas and topics learned previously. This will help you connect the dots and keep everything organized in your brain as you progress towards your exams.

The Best Reviewing Strategy


So a month or two has passed now and you have gone over your entire syllabus but a few weeks remain before the exams start and you’re unsure of which reviewing strategy to adopt. Here’s how straight-A students do it, a book we recommend on reading.   (Well, maybe after your exams)

Start with finding a test paper or a past paper of the exam you will be taking. While going through the exam try to make sure to set a timer to mimic exam conditions.  After you’re done with the paper, check for answers, then go over through the paper from beginning and write down all the topics from which you got the answers wrong.

Ask yourself why you got it wrong, was it a silly mistake? Or do you require reviewing the entire topic? Make sure to pin down the exact sub-topic from which the question was given and focus on that. Try to identify any pattern or particular kind of questions you seem to be struggling with, if you find it, then make a note of which topics and what type of questions. You would need to practice more of these.

In case, you guessed something correct also make sure to go back to the book to understand the reasoning behind it. Leave nothing to luck and be ruthless when marking yourself; this will help you when you’re giving the actual exam.

Alas.. We’ve come to an end.

​If you’ve read this to the end, congratulations! You’re absolutely committed to adopting our killer study tips and tricks, and you’re well on your way to academic success!

Do bookmark this article and come back to it each week, so that you will remember the formula to do well in your examinations.

Hey, don’t be selfish. Share this with your friends using our sharing buttons below so your friends can benefit as well!

So what particular tip in the past has helped you most when studying for your exams? Share by commenting below.

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.