Exam Preparation

Hello again from Colin Berrido, the independent music teacher based in Bagshot, Surrey, England with some tips on Exam Preparation.

Well the summer Exam season is nearly upon us which is often a time of anxiety for a lot of students – but it need not be. In this article I’m going to share some useful tips on Exam Preparation that will reduce your anxiety and make you feel confident in the Exam – in fact a lot the tips also apply to not music exams.

Tip 1: The secret of passing any Exam is to know your subject so ensure you do enough practising of Scales, Chords, Set Pieces etc. and read your Set Books very carefully to make sure your are clear as to what you have to do in the Exam. Make sure you know what the Pass Mark is.

Tip 2: Do lots of Practice Exams” with your Teacher. This way you’ll get into the routine of what’s needed on the day and it will reduce “surprises”. As a Teacher I tend to make my Practice Exams a little more stretching than what you might meet in a real life Exam so that you are well prepared.

Tip 3: The day BEFORE the Exam make sure you don’t go out partying or have a busy tiring day. Make sure you get a good nights sleep. Also, go over the times and details of where the Exam is and make sure you know how to get there.

Tip 4: On the day of the Exam try to get up early and take some light exercise (to get some oxygen into your blood). Have a slow release carbohydrate breakfast (or lunch if your Exam is in the afternoon). I also recommend you take along to the Exam a glucose drink and some water. Before you go into the Exam drink about half the glucose drink (to get an energy boost) and after the Exam drink the other half (helps to stop the adrenalin “shakes”).

Tip 5: Arrive at the Exam venue at least 30 minutes before start time. Relax – get your guitar in tune, have a “noodle” and play a few scales or chords to get your fingers “warmed up”.

Tip 6:  When you enter the Exam room – stay calm and remember to breathe. Introduce yourself and say “hello” to the Examiner – they are human after all. Get yourself settled and be ready for the “off”. If asked a question, say “play a C major scale two octaves”, restate the question back to Examiner – this way it will help you focus and gives you a little extra thinking time. Count yourself in and remember to breathe.

Tip 7: During the Exam try to keep going and not stop if you make a mistake. If you do make a mistake politely ask if may repeat that section.

Tip 8: On the Aural Section, which most students find challenging, listen carefully and go with your “gut instinct” – avoid thinking about your answer too much (“paralysis through analysis” can occur). Most Aural Sections come at the end of the Exam and only account for a relatively small percentage of the total marks (say 10 to 15%) so even if you do badly (and you will pick up some marks) it should not stop you Passing the Exam on the basis that you will already have enough marks in the bank.

Tip 9: At the end of the Exam thank the Examiner and leave quickly – Examiner usually have busy schedule so they are under pressure to keep to their timetable.

Tip 10: Once you’ve taken the Exam stop thinking about it – you can’t change the result so don’t torture yourself worrying. Everyone tends to rate themselves down and think that they have done worse than they actually have.

Well good luck and I’m sure you’ll be successful!

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