The 29th February marks the beginning of the S3 exams, the S3s first foray into the world of exams. But what should you expect to be confronted by when you enter the Victoria Hall for your first exam?

Before we go anywhere near the actual exam, we must start off by considering how to prepare for the exam. The best form of preparation is revision. Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War,

“If you know yourself and you know the enemy, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you shall also suffer a defeat. If you know neither yourself nor the enemy, you shall succumb in every battle.”

Exams are not necessarily the enemy but the same principle still applies to them. Revision will refresh all the information you have learnt so far in class. For a guide on how to revise, click here. While some people are capable of revising while listening to music, it’s not for everyone. Studies have shown that you perform better when there are no distractions. I personally like to stick on epic orchestral music, very quietly, but find other forms rather distracting. Although, having a collection of heavy metal probably does explain why it is so distracting.

Secondly, after your revision, on the evening prior to your exam, try to avoid revising or if it is necessary do very little. Revision at such a late stage is unlikely to be taken in and may result in greater stress. Try to just relax, rewatch the Harry Potter films, read a book, try to take your mind off of what is to follow thus allowing you to calm down and be in a healthier state of mind for the exam.

Thirdly, there are some essentials you will need to take into the exam with you. You are not allowed a pencil case, so do bare that in mind. For subjects such as the sciences and maths, you will need a calculator. Scientific calculators will prove to be your ally when it comes to the exams. You will also need pens. When I say pens, I mean a fair few. I personally probably go slightly over the top with around ten pens however, you are always better safe than sorry. On many an occasion I have ran out of ink and had to resort to the use of another pen. In the recent geography prelim this happened right at the start but my many backup pens came in useful. Please note that in the exam you will only be allowed to use a black or blue ink pen. That means no black gel pens, make sure to check your pen is ink and not gel as it is not always obvious. You will find a pencil and rubber useful, especially for subjects such as maths. Multiple choice questions require a pencil to be used unless stated otherwise. Finally, you will also need a ruler and protractor for subjects which require such tools. Evidently, you will not need these for English but maths, geography and the sciences will require you to have at them. If you are unsure as to what you will need to take with you into the exam, ask your teacher and they will tell you what is required.

On the day of the exam, make sure to turn up to the location of your exam 15 minutes before it is set to start. This gives the invigilators time to check everyone has what they need and sort out any issues that may arise.

Now, once you are in the exam you will be given an individual table – you may be assigned this or you may simply just have to take a seat – and on that table will be the question paper. There may also be an answer booklet. On the front of this you will be asked to write your name, seat number, centre (Selkirk High School is the centre even if you are in the Victoria Hall) and possibly the date. You are allowed to fill this in prior to the exam starting. However, do not open the question paper until instructed to by an invigilator. Remember to write your name on any sheets of paper you use and make sure it is clear which question you are answering. If you find yourself short on paper or all your pens have run out or you simply need to use the toilet, stick your hand in the air and one of the invigilators – who I assure you are very understanding – will help.

Most importantly, don’t panic during or before the exam. Exams can be daunting and are often stressful, especially when it comes to highers, but you will perform much better if you are less stressed out and have a clearer mind.

On behalf of the PR and Press Committee, I wish you all the best with your exams. As they say in The Hunger Games:

“May the odds be ever in your favour.”