Five quick tips to get you exam fit

4 min read   •   May 16, 2023
Elmien Ackerman

Preparing for a test or examination is like training for a marathon. Both require a significant amount of preparation, discipline, and perseverance. To succeed, you must commit to a rigorous training regimen, gradually building endurance and knowledge. Both endeavours also involve mental toughness and the ability to push through discomfort, whether it’s the physical pain of running or the mental strain of studying.

Start training today to ensure you are exam fit when assessment season rolls around! Here are five quick tips to help you prepare.

1. Work through past papers

Completing past papers is like practising for a marathon. You can’t run the Comrades by starting your training a week before the big race. Likewise, you cannot work through one paper before writing your exam and think you are exam fit. Work through numerous papers to get a feel for the type of questions being asked.

If you are a registered Impaq or Impaq Online School learner, you can find past papers on the Optimi Learning Portal (OLP). Go to OLP, select Resources, and then select the subject you want to start working on. Here, you will find a folder filled with past exams and memorandums.

2. Pay attention to the mark allocation

Just like runners need to be aware of their stats, you will need to take note of the mark allocation for each question. This will give you an idea of the extent of the expected answer. For example, a much more comprehensive answer will be expected for a question that counts 20 marks compared to a question that counts only 4 marks.

Also read: Top tips for the preliminary examination

3. Complete one section at a time

When preparing for your upcoming test or exam, focus on one topic at a time. For example, if you are preparing to write your Mathematics exam, concentrate on algebra first. Complete a few questions and look at the memorandum to see which questions you had right and which ones you need help with. Once you have completed a few and feel confident that you can answer the questions correctly, you can start on the next section.

Read more: Smart study hacks for the exams

4. Time yourself

Like a marathon runner would try to beat their best time, you should also time yourself. This does not mean that you need to rush through an exam, but timing yourself will give you an idea of how long it takes you to complete a paper. The sections you spend the most time on are likely the ones you need to pay more attention to. Focus on these sections during your next study session to ensure you understand all the essential concepts.

5. Hop, skip and jump


While training for a marathon, it’s unlikely that you will run in a straight line during your training sessions. The same goes for writing a paper. Remember that you don’t have to start at question 1 and end at question 10. You can hop, skip, and jump to the sections that you know and understand. You’ll see that you’ll spend less time on those questions and have more time to spare for the ones you find more challenging.

Also read: 10 Habits for a Successful Learning Journey

Bonus tip: Make use of additional resources

Runners usually rely on additional equipment, such as the right running shoes or a fitness watch, to ensure they perform their best. The right tools can also help you ace your exam. Supplementary learning tools are available on the Optimi Plus online store, which includes:

If you are in Grade 12, why not join our virtual Winter School kicking off on 26 June 2023? Tickets can be purchased at R600 per subject, which includes a minimum of three (3) sessions, focused on helping you prepare for the preliminary and final NSC exams. All sessions will take place via Zoom, where you will be encouraged to interact with the presenters, allowing you to have your questions answered in real time! Head on over to to buy ticket(s) today. It’s never too early to start preparing for success!