Exam taking skills: A Resource for Students

In the resource sheet below you will find a brief outline of how to prepare for and to take examinations. In reading this section you should be aware of the section on Study Skills, which will give you some advice on effective study.

It may be stating the obvious, but examinations occur at the end of a learning process.  In the case of State examinations, it is a two- or three-year learning process. In other words, preparation for the examinations begins in First Year.

Study skills established early in post-primary school lay the foundation for effective preparation for the examinations. Some guidelines for effective study may be found here. If you haven’t established your study habits, you should start now by using the guidelines.

If you are still unsure as to what to do, or if you find an issue that you can’t deal with on your own, try to talk about it with your parents or your guidance counsellor, or with some other important person in your life.

Assuming that you have studied well and are preparing for examinations, the following information is designed to help you reviewing your preparation for the exam. They summarise the essentials of exam preparation and fall under the following headings;

  • Mind yourself
  • Be prepared
  • Revise
  • The exam

To access the ‘Preparing for Exams’ resource, click HERE.

Further information regarding any of the items on the lists can be found through consultation with your guidance counsellor, your subject teachers or by an internet search.


When to ask for help?

You still might want help in preparing for examinations;

  • If you have tried to use some of the suggestions listed and they don’t seem to work for you.
  • If you are confused by the number of possible things that can go wrong.
  • If you need further information about any of the ideas listed above.
  • If you need help in making a start.

If you need someone to check that what you’re doing is effective.​These are the kind of issues that many students face, and that guidance counsellors and subject teachers can help you to sort out. You could make an appointment to speak to your guidance counsellor or you could ask your guidance counsellor or subject teachers to speak to your class about exam preparation. Your guidance counsellor would probably welcome some ideas about the kind of questions you, or your classmates, have in mind. This would help in preparing answers to your particular questions.


What you have read above is a summary of ideas about exam taking. Whole books have been written not only about exam skills and techniques, but also about topics such as study, reading, memory, note-taking and healthy living. If you are interested in learning more about anything in this outline, you will find it on websites, such as https://www.wikihow.com/Prepare-for-an-Exam  and on the Student Resources section of http://careersnews.ie/. If any of the topics outlined here are of concern to you or if you find it difficult to put them into practice or, indeed, if you simply wish to be reassured about your study activity, your guidance counsellor is there to help you.


NCGE acknowledges the contribution of Colum Layton in the development of this resource page.