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This year’s exam period is an unprecedented one. The PSLE and N-levels are over but now it’s our O-level and A-level students who have to deal with the stress of a major exam coupled with the pressures of HBL and Covid safe management measures.

Here are some important information and tips that may help in your examination journey.

Be safe

O Level A Level Exams
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In light of the rise in new Covid cases, the Ministry of Education released updated guidelines for the year-end written examinations in August.

As with last year, if you test positive for Covid-19, or have been issued a quarantine order or stay-home-notice, you cannot sit for the exams.

In addition to QO and SHN measures, MOE also issues Leave of Absence (LOA) and Approved Absence (AA) to students and staff to limit Covid-19 transmission by requiring those who might have been exposed to the virus to stay away from school campuses.

If you have a LOA due to someone in your household being positive for Covid or is serving a QO or SHN, you can sit for the exams if you pass a supervised Antigen Rapid Test (ART).

If you have an AA if someone in your household shows flu-like symptoms, you can sit for the exams if you pass a self-administered ART. If your AA is due to a health-risk warning from MOH, you have to pass the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test first.

If you are on MC due to an acute respiratory infection, you have to pass the PCR after you recover before you can sit for the exams.

Be calm

O Level A Level Exams
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Everyone crams at the last minute and in the past weeks, I’m sure you’ve been revising your notes and practising on past papers.

During the exam period, you’ll be tired from sitting papers, so focus on your chapter summaries if you need to save time on revision.

If you still feel nervous and unprepared, take a deep breath — everyone is feeling that way too!

To calm yourself, pack your bag: Prepare everything you’ll need ahead of time. Keep things simple, don’t bring items that are not permitted, such as unapproved calculators, mobile phones or earphones. Your school would have given you a list of things to avoid: refer to it. Your statement of entry will have a list connected to it.

On stationery: Always remember to have extra pens and (2B!) pencils with you. Avoid using correction tape or fluid.

In a clear folder, keep your entry proof and identity papers. Keep it with you at all times! Failure to bring them can result in unnecessary drama.

O Level A Level Exams
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When you first turn over the paper, nervousness or panic may hit you.

Again, take a breath! You know this; you’ve been practising for it: Take a few minutes to read through all of the questions and map out your responses, as tempted as you may be to start on something you know the solution of. Note the questions you are unsure about.

If there are any multiple-choice questions, prioritise answering them.

To save time, begin with questions you are most familiar with and work your way up to the more difficult ones. Keep track of how much time you spend on each question.

Read questions carefully, highlighting the essential terms so you understand what is being asked.

And finally, check to see if you’ve attempted to answer all of the questions!

Be kind to yourself

O Level A Level Exams
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As important as it is, exams aren’t everything, and they shouldn’t come at the expense of your health. Breaks taken at the right times will help you relax, redirect your attention, and avoid information overload.

To psychologically prepare for your exam, if you can afford it, take a break the evening before the paper. If you can’t, revise but set a cut-off time to stop cramming.

Your mind should have had enough time to rest and revitalize before you enter the exam room. If you got enough sleep the night before, you’d have an easier time remembering the answers to the exam questions.

You should get seven to eight hours of sleep every night in order for your brain to function properly. Pulling an all-nighter is the last thing to do right before an exam.

The truth is that there will most likely be a question (or questions!) that you will not know how to answer. Remember that you are a human being, and perfection is an illusion. Oftentimes, your stress is self-inflicted.

After the end of every paper, try not to spend too much time talking and discussing your answers with others.

It’s natural to want to talk about it, so don’t avoid it totally, especially if that’s how you relax after the paper. But remember that realising that you got an answer wrong that your friends got right may cause you to lose confidence.

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Your morale is important. Realise that you can’t do anything to a paper you’ve already handed up, so channel your inner Elsa and just let it go!

Use the opportunity to unwind, then begin preparing for the next paper instead.

Good luck and all the best!

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