The countdown is on

I do not like paying for apps on my phone and yet somehow I have three different apps that count down the ‘time until’. The first app automatically syncs with my calendar and counts down the hours and minutes until the next entry (whatever it is). The second app counts down in days, hours, minutes and seconds until a big event that I schedule in. The third app counts sheep backwards from 100 in an effort to help me fall asleep. I have two out of the three counting down as I type this.

The countdown is on to the final exams for IGCSE and IB. For Year 10, it brings to a close two years of study for their International General Certificate of Secondary Education and sets them up for the rigour of the IB Diploma Program. For Year 12, it is the exam block that the previous years at ISM have been leading up to. It is the big one!

We have to think of this like a 200m sprint. A lot of time, when runners see the finish line, their mind subconsciously does an automatic calculation of how much energy they would need to simply stumble across the line, because nothing more is needed. They don’t give up, but they put in just enough energy. They just need to finish. The problem with this is that the mind automatically calculates ‘just enough’ and inevitably the closer the finish line gets, the less effort our body puts in.

But the exam period last for a significantly longer time than a 200m sprint. The exam block period for Year 10 lasts five weeks and the exam block period for Year 12 lasts a little over 2 weeks. Not every day has an exam, but it is a marathon. All of the days before the exam block starts, all of the days that there is an exam (or two), all of the days in between the exams – all of them are as important as every other.

Counting down the days is only half of the process. It is not simply that we need to count down the days, but we must also make the days count.

There are still a couple of weeks of school before the break, and another couple of weeks after that at home to prepare for the upcoming exams. So how do we make them matter?

If you are a student:

  • Check in with your teachers regularly. You are obviously capable of revising on your own, but your teacher may help you by focussing your revision on specific topics or chapters.
    • Keep handing work in. If you are writing practice essays, completing past papers or working independently, have your work checked by your teacher as often as possible.
    • Make a revision schedule and stick to it. There will be a thousand temptations that will distract you, but for the next month it should be easy to prioritise revision.
    • Have balance. Ensure that you are eating properly, sleeping enough and have some relax time in the middle of all the study.
    • Remember if you are struggling, do not be afraid to ask for help.

If you are a parent or guardian:

  • Help your child stick to a revision schedule and give them some space to study
    • Check in with your child’s teachers if you notice that they are struggling with a particular subject or topic.
    • Be prepared for some extra stress in the house. It is inevitable.

Each day counts from now until the end of the exam period and there is ample enough time during the summer to celebrate the end of the chapter, but for now, the focus is on study.

ISM wishes all students the best of luck in their preparations before the exam block and for the exams themselves.


Picture retrieved on March 24 from: