Advice for National 5 prelims? Watch

Labrador99
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If you've already done your Nat 5s, you'll likely relate to not knowing exactly what you're meant to be doing during your study time or what to expect in prelims...So, what would be your top tips for other students?

It can be general tips for organising yourself during prelims, subject specific advice, or ideas for how to study and make the most of your revision time.

Share your ideas here, and some of the best advice will be featured in an article
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ellie1964
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Prelims are a bit of a shock to the system compared to unit assessments and are probably the first experience for most people of being in an exam hall. Here’s some of my advice from first hand experience:

Don’t make an unrealistic timetable saying that you’ll do 7 hours of revision everyday because you are not going to stick to it speaking from experience. And honestly for Nat 5’s, you don’t need to go crazy with revision anyway. Instead of blocking your revision time by hours, make doing a unit or topic in the course your goal. It makes you feel like you’ve actually achieved something when you finish.

Figure out your revision style. Do you like colour? Diagrams? Writing things over and over? Listening to recordings or watching videos? This comes from practice and can sometimes differ for different subjects. For example, I always liked to draw out diagrams in biology because it never made sense to me unless I did that. Audio can be useful for language students. Essay subjects like English, history and modern studies might require a lot of learning concepts and facts which equals a lot of writing.

Make use of all your class notes, BBC Bitesize and past papers. But learn the concepts before you go straight to a past paper or else you’ll get yourself in a panic. Leave those for last and self mark them or even ask your teachers to mark them for you and suggest what you could do to improve your answers. Practice makes perfect and a large amount of exam success comes down to exam technique.

Structure can be a useful thing to have in your answers, especially in Nat 5’s but less so as you go up a level or two. But for Nationals, it makes it clear and easy for an examiner to mark, especially in subjects like sciences or even history where structure and word choice are so key.

Lastly, don’t panic. Prelims seem like such a big deal but all they are is good practice especially in things like time management. You can and probably will see your grades improve from prelims onward. They simply set a bench mark and where you can go from. Good luck to all of you when the time comes - you’ll smash it!
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Labrador99
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(Original post by ellie1964)
Prelims are a bit of a shock to the system compared to unit assessments and are probably the first experience for most people of being in an exam hall. Here’s some of my advice from first hand experience:

Don’t make an unrealistic timetable saying that you’ll do 7 hours of revision everyday because you are not going to stick to it speaking from experience. And honestly for Nat 5’s, you don’t need to go crazy with revision anyway. Instead of blocking your revision time by hours, make doing a unit or topic in the course your goal. It makes you feel like you’ve actually achieved something when you finish.

Figure out your revision style. Do you like colour? Diagrams? Writing things over and over? Listening to recordings or watching videos? This comes from practice and can sometimes differ for different subjects. For example, I always liked to draw out diagrams in biology because it never made sense to me unless I did that. Audio can be useful for language students. Essay subjects like English, history and modern studies might require a lot of learning concepts and facts which equals a lot of writing.

Make use of all your class notes, BBC Bitesize and past papers. But learn the concepts before you go straight to a past paper or else you’ll get yourself in a panic. Leave those for last and self mark them or even ask your teachers to mark them for you and suggest what you could do to improve your answers. Practice makes perfect and a large amount of exam success comes down to exam technique.

Structure can be a useful thing to have in your answers, especially in Nat 5’s but less so as you go up a level or two. But for Nationals, it makes it clear and easy for an examiner to mark, especially in subjects like sciences or even history where structure and word choice are so key.

Lastly, don’t panic. Prelims seem like such a big deal but all they are is good practice especially in things like time management. You can and probably will see your grades improve from prelims onward. They simply set a bench mark and where you can go from. Good luck to all of you when the time comes - you’ll smash it!
That's some really brilliant advice!
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Labrador99
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123543
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I sat my N5s last year and received all As. I didn't study intensively throughout prelims - we didn't have study leave. In the weeks leading up to prelims an hour a night is brilliant (this includes homework) and will allow you to be really prepared, but if not then even just 15, 20 mins looking over vocab or attempting a few questions is also really beneficial. When it comes to a few days before the prelim, I think the best thing to do is to identify where you really need to work at in each subject and focus on that. For example, in biology, I knew I had to work at Unit 1 last year, so I focussed mainly on that.

Also remember, there is no prelim appeals system now so ultimately it doesn't matter what result you get - it's just to get you used to the exam process and identify your strengths and weaknesses so you can tailor your revision further for the final exam.

Finally, your N5 prelims are the last thing to panic/worry about as the above poster said. Even sitting prelims under the stress that is completely new is a great achievement.

Best of luck!
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independentx
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I sat my Nat 5s last year (can't believe I just said that, it feels like last week) and I don't have much advice, but I thought I'd post the few things that helped me.

The real purpose of prelims (nowadays, they used to be for appeals) is to get you used to the exam environment and to update your tracking information. So, it is easier said than done but try not to stress too much about your result. The result you get in your prelim has no impact on the result you get for your exam - it is likely to improve with hard work. I'm a prime example of this - I failed my Maths prelim, was convinced I'd fail the exam and I got a B, so it is possible to really improve your grade over the few months between prelims and final exams.

It is good to practice at least one full timed past paper before your prelim so you can ensure that you can complete the work in the time allocated. Many teachers do these in class time, but if not they are all available online and your teacher will be able to tell you how much time you get. If time management is an issue for you (like it was for me) it's good to practice doing more of these papers so that you don't get a shock on prelim day.

Also, be realistic and don't listen to people who tell you that you must study for 8 hours per day in the holidays. I was told this by a number of people and all it did was stressed me out. Set yourself a realistic timetable that you know you can stick to - don't stress yourself out by doing too much or too little. As important as studying is, it's all about balance. If your prelims are after the Christmas holidays, many people will likely tell you that these should be used primarily for studying. While it is important not to waste them, it is also important to relax and enjoy days such as Christmas and New Years dday with your families.

I know that I personally found prelims a lot more of a challenge than final exams (perhaps because they were the first experience I'd had of formal exams) so whatever your results are, be proud! You have to start somewhere.
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Labrador99
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Some great advice independentx and 123543! Thank you both

I plan on writing the article up at the beginning of next week, so if anyone else wants their top tips to be included, then share your advice soon
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