Being successful in NEBOSH examinations means having more than an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, it means also having the necessary exam technique. Studying and revising are activities in their own right and there are tips and techniques that you can adopt which will help you to be more effective and give yourself a greater chance of success.
This article is aimed at providing some useful advice on how to improve your study skills and how to revise. It will also advise you on exam technique and help you to organise your time.
Finally, it will explain what to expect on the day of the exam.
Most people live busy lives and finding time to study and take exams can be difficult. So, do not commit to study ‘all day’. Make a study plan. Be realistic and disciplined – don’t plan a schedule you can’t manage.
Remember, too much work can be as unproductive as too little work. A good way to start is to work for 50 minutes, then give yourself a 10-minute break. Also remember to allow breaks in your day for food, relaxation and exercise, but not all at once. Physical exercise will help to increase your concentration. Even a short, brisk walk will improve your attention span.
The best time to do difficult tasks is when you are at your most productive so schedule these topics at the start of your study. Decide on the time of day when your concentration is at its best; for some, this might be first thing in the morning, so consider rising earlier and study before going to work; for others it may be late in the evening, but always remember most people’s day jobs are demanding and you may well be too tired!
Another consideration might be to plan to do some work at lunchtime, whatever you decide, aim to work to a regular regime that suits you and your family. Try to give each subject equal time; do not concentrate on one subject at the expense of another.
Don’t be a slave to the plan, be flexible – you never know when an emergency will crop up – and always leave time at the end for reviewing what you have done and what you must still do.
Finding a suitable environment
It is important that you work in comfortable surroundings. Your study environment should be calm and quiet and free from distraction (i.e. mobile phone, family, TV, facebook).
Ensure your room has adequate lighting to prevent eye strain, is at a comfortable temperature and is well ventilated with plenty of fresh air to keep you awake.
You should also ensure that you have a good chair (an upright chair is better than an armchair) and a spacious desk to take all your books and other study aids.
Revision and exam technique
It may have been some time since you last prepared for and took a professional exam. Remember, success in an exam depends mainly on:
- Revision – your ability to remember, recall and apply the information contained in your course materials or e-learning plus any supporting resources.
- Exam technique – your ability to understand the questions and write good answers in the time available.
Revision and exam technique are skills that can be learned. We will now deal with both of these skills so that you can prepare yourself for the exam. There is a saying that ‘proper planning and preparation prevents a poor performance’. This was never truer than in an exam.
You should recognise the knowledge that you already possess that is relevant to the NEBOSH syllabus. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. But, it is never too early to start revising!
Throughout your learning, you should have been thinking about this and noting the topics that you are finding it difficult to deal with.
- Simply reading the study materials repeatedly will not normally help you to remember the information; from the start of your study abstract keynotes covering the essence of the subject. This process will ensure greater retention and recall because we remember better that which we do, rather than that which we have just read. This process will identify any ambiguity you might have, early in the period of study and enable you to seek clarity via your tutor if available or further research.
- As your study progresses, condense the information you have abstracted onto revision cards. This is a revision technique in itself. It means that you can carry a lot of information with you and read them in a spare moment.
Other techniques, which you may consider worth trying include mind maps, keywords and mnemonics.
The lost art of written communications
From the start of your revision, it is essential to practice handwriting whenever possible. Most people have become so used to using personal computers (PC’s) and mobile phones for written or text communications, that they experience real difficulty in writing on the day of the exam. Do not underestimate the effort required to handwrite text continuously for two or three hours for each of the exams.
When using a PC you can write whatever you wish in any order and then re-organise the text easily into a logical sequence; this is not possible with the written word on paper in a NEBOSH answer book. You must plan your answer or approach before you commence writing. It is important to provide sufficient written material in your answer, the examiner cannot award marks for that which is not there; again, the use of e-mails has encouraged us to use as few words as possible, leaving the reader to fill in the gaps; the examiner will not fill in the gaps, they will only mark that which is written and developed.
Attempt as many questions as you can which may have been provided or sourced, have a go handwriting answers to some of the questions as practice, ideally under exam conditions.
Also take a look on the NEBOSH website www.nebosh.org.uk for relevant examiners reports available free of charge. They are intended to be constructive and warn of the common mistakes made by people sitting these exams. A common fault is that candidates fail to pay attention to the command word in each question.
Understanding the command words
The phrase ‘command word’ is used to refer to the words specifically associated with the learning outcomes and assessment objectives of the NEBOSH qualifications.
The syllabus learning outcomes are concerned with what students can do at the end of a learning activity, to assess this command words used are action (active) verbs.
Supporting documentation and resources
Over the internet, there are countless NEBOSH resources available – some good, some bad. Sometimes the best starting place will be the NEBOSH website which should be helpful in downloading useful documents for exams including Examiners’ Reports; Example question paper and Examiners’ feedback on expected answers; and Guidance and Information for practicals and assignments.
Downloading the relevant syllabus will give you an amazing insight into what is needed – likewise understanding the command words will help you with your exam preparation. The syllabus also includes links for reference material, which will be beneficial for you.
Each publication is designed to reflect the structure and intent of the NEBOSH syllabus. They are written at the level and depth appropriate for study of the NEBOSH qualifications by experienced tutors, including those of the ACT Academy. They are recommended by NEBOSH as offering high quality support for the delivery of NEBOSH qualifications, so you can trust that they will provide you with what you will need. They also provide information about study skills and preparing for an exam.
One way of increasing your chances of success in gaining your NEBOSH qualification is varying the way you study. Reading pages and pages of course material can be limiting but combining this with online course elements makes learning more interactive and engaging.
ACT offer a range of NEBOSH e-learning courses which takes users on an interactive journey through the core NEBOSH syllabus content with a range of exercises along the way. The e-learning packages start with a useful welcome presentation which explores the NEBOSH command words and provides a brief look at the course materials including the syllabus and exam preparation tips.
Making use of online e-learning resources gives an interactive element to your study with interaction and exercises to consolidate learning and knowledge gained. All in all by using a range of study resources you can give yourself the best chance of passing that exam.
Contact the ACT Enquiry Team on 01384 447915, for further information.