Are your students preparing for an exam, how? The International Certificate (PTE General)? If so, you may find that you are more stressed than usual or that you lack motivation. When helping your students prepare for an exam, it’s easy to overlook the need to undress and relax a little too.

Exam preparation is an important time. For this reason, we have put together some tips and advice that will help increase your happiness and well-being. It will also help you ensure that your students develop good study habits and stay happy through their exam and beyond.

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1. Create a study plan

Having a clear plan will get students off to a positive start. At the same time, it will inevitably lead to more confidence and better results on the big day. Encourage students to gather all the materials and equipment they will need. Once you are prepared, you should set up a comfortable work area that is a pleasure to spend time in. You can even ask your students to describe their ideal study spaces in class – this will help them visualize what to do at home!

Students should also create a schedule of what to work on and when. Try to make sure they cover all areas of the exam, but prioritize those that need more work on.

A detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of your students with personal recommendations for each student can be found in our Readiness test. This shorter test is suitable for students preparing for the International Certificate or a similar English test.

2. Take your time

If your students are feeling anxious or stressed at the beginning of the exam day, show them how to relax and stay positive through the exam day. Here are a few ideas:

Take a break

Remind students that it is better to study for a short time than to spend hours at their desks. They should break off their studies and take short breaks at regular intervals. If possible, they should also go outside and get some fresh air at least once a day.

Try mindfulness techniques

Guided meditation apps like Headspace or Petit BamBou can help relieve stress and prepare students to better focus on their studies. You can also find guided meditation video and audio tracks on Youtube or Spotify.

Find out more in our article: Does Mindfulness Really Work? And can it help your students?

Be positive

Remind students how far they have progressed and celebrate what they can do. Encourage them to imagine how they will safely complete the exam.

3. Have fun!

Although exam practice and review is an important part of exam preparation, it can also be fun for students. Play games in class and basic activities in a variety of different media, including short videos and podcasts and other forms of entertainment.

Encourage students to make English a part of their free time. They can watch series or movies in English, listen to music, or choose podcasts that suit their interests. Encourage them to look for English-language alternatives to any material or media that they typically consume.

4. Stay healthy

The stress caused by exams can cause students to eat unhealthily – fast food, snacks, and caffeine can create a false sense of energy. However, eating and drinking can have a huge impact on the mind and body. Eating a healthy diet can improve our mood, memory, and focus.

Healthy carbohydrates like brown rice, pasta, whole grain bread, and cereal provide the energy necessary to keep students working throughout the day. Oily fish like salmon and sardines are great for the brain, heart, and joints, as well as increasing serotonin which makes us feel good! Other sources of omega-3s like nuts and seeds are great vegan substitutes. And of course, a variety of fruits and vegetables ensure that students have a balanced diet that improves memory, brain performance, and mental agility.

5. Get a good night’s sleep

Sleep is important in learning how to take place. In fact, the time students sleep is just as important as the time they spend awake. You should try to get 8 hours of sleep a night. This will help your brain recharge and allow you to start the day with energy and focus.

It is especially important that students get a good night’s sleep the day before the exam. This will help them relax and make sure they are alert and ready to perform at their best.

6. Offer incentives

If your students study intensively or over a long period of time, their motivation may decrease. If you see that this is the case, your class will need additional support and encouragement to move on.

Small rewards can help with this. You can offer classroom rewards by allowing students to choose an activity that they enjoy. However, it is also useful for students to reward themselves for any goals they set and achieve. This personalization makes the reward even more satisfying. Small rewards include things like listening to your favorite song, eating a sweet treat, or watching a fun video.

7. Reduce the workload

As the exam approaches, encourage students to gradually slow down. Instead of trying to learn something new, spend the last few days reviewing what you have learned and practicing as much English as possible. On the day before the exam, encourage students to do something completely different, such as sitting down. Take a long walk or watch a good movie.

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Discuss our seven tips for happiness and wellbeing with your students in class and see what ideas they find useful. Ask students to share what works for them and what changes they would like to make to their lifestyle and study habits.

Finally, invite them to subscribe to the full one 7-day exam preparation happiness plan.

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