Five Top Tips for National 5 Prelims!


If you're currently preparing for your National 5 prelims, this will likely be the first set of exams you've had to do, so it's natural to not know exactly what to expect, or how to be spending your revision time.  Don't worry though, some TSRians who have been through it before are on hand to offer some helpful advice...


1.  Plan your time

What a revision plan looks like will vary from person to person- some people benefit from planning almost every hour of each day, others prefer to just have a list of things to be done in that week.  Whatever style works best for you, a good plan will almost certainly have a balance between work, rest and things you enjoy doing.  It's super important that you take time out to do things you enjoy, and you can still do great in your prelims as well.

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 ~ ellie1964 

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 day with your families ~ independentx


2.  Space out your revision

For the majority of students, it's not effective to be cramming an entire course into one revision session the day before the prelim.  Instead, spacing out your revision over a longer period can help your understand and learn the content.  TSR already has lots of advice about revising effectively.

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 ~ 123543


3.  Find out how you work best

Prelims are simply a practice for the final exam, so use them as an opportunity to find out what works for you.  Maybe you like to study first thing in the morning, to get it over with and enjoy the rest of the day.  Or you might find that there's a particular length of time you can work for, before you start to lose concentration.  The library, school, at home, or at a coffee shop are a few potential study spaces- where do you make best use of your time?  And then there's the debates of music or no music, electronic revision materials or on paper...Use prelims to find out how you work best- it's an individual thing, so take the opportunity to try out lots of different study set ups and revision methods, and stick with the ones that help you learn best!

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 ~ ellie1964


4.  Use prelims as a learning experience

The main purpose of prelims is to provide an exam experience, and give you (and your teachers) an idea of where you're currently at.  No matter how they go, you can learn from them, and use them to guide your revision and improve your grade.  

Ultimately it doesn't matter what prelim 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 ~ 123543

The real purpose of prelims 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 ~ independentx


5.  And overall, don't panic!

Your N5 prelims are the last thing to panic/worry about...Even sitting prelims under the stress that is completely new is a great achievement ~ 123543

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 ~ independentx

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! ~ ellie1964

Remember that prelims aren't the end goal- the final exams are.  Even if things don't go to plan in the prelims, you can still do well and succeed in the final exams!


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Huge thanks to ellie1964, 123543 and independentx for contributing to this article.