How to prepare for cumulative exams

Angelbrat asks: I’m supossed to do my IGCSE exams in November, and yet I don’t feel like I’m ready! I’m always babysitting my little brother and at times I don’t have time for my studies! What should I do? Do you have any method of studying that can help me? I’m counting on you, please!

Hi Angelbrat –


It sounds to me like you’re dealing with two issues.  As far as the question about study methods, I’d refer you to CaNdAcE’s question about school tips for teenagers.  I threw some good stuff in there, if I do say so myself!


But I think you have a bigger problem than just study techniques.  And that’s called Time Management.  It’s hard for teenagers to manage time anyway, and you’re supposed to be babysitting your little brother – so how can you possibly get everything done?


The answer is the most boring word any teenager ever hears:  Plan.  This is a time when you want to be spontaneous and adventurous, and live your life in the moment.  But right now, you can’t.  You have to make a way every day to study for these tests.  Now you’re still five months away, so you don’t need to study all day.  But if you can get some time – maybe three hours?  I don’t know how old your brother is, but does he take naps?  Is there stuff he likes to do that could occupy him for a half-hour or more at a time?  And is there any time when someone else could watch him, so you can devote yourself to studying?


And when I say “devote,” I mean devote!  No phone, no radio, no TV, no Facebook, no internet, no nothing! For the time that you’re studying, you need to cut yourself off from everyone and everything.  That doesn’t mean you can’t be in the same room, or the next room, to your brother.  But it does mean you need to be able to concentrate, however you can.


The other big part of planning like this is to break down your material.  Those exams you’re taking are Huge – there’s no way you can ingest all that at once, any more than I can eat a whole turkey (The difference, of course, is that I’d enjoy trying, while you wouldn’t!).  So spend a week or so, now, going through all the stuff you’re supposed to learn for the exams, and divide it up into parts.  And then give yourself a timeline.  Maybe you read everything over in June, July, and August, creating a list of things you don’t know from every subject.  Then you spend a week per subject memorizing everything you need to know.  Then you have a month to take practice tests, over and over and over, and find out what it was you didn’t learn as well as you thought you did!

You are showing great responsibility by asking these questions now (and by babysitting your brother, of course).  The necessity is that you follow through on this great spirit of yours.

Please feel free to write me with any issues that come up.  I’m sure you’ll do fine, but I want you to live through it too!


Good Luck!




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