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Post-prelim study advice from Saturday School Ltd.

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

For when your prelim diet is over and your grades are in, here are our top ten studying tips on how to react correctly and prepare positively for the final SQA National 5 and Higher exams later this year.


1) React positively to your grades no matter what they are


You can always take the positives from any situation; learn from the result and think about how you can improve. It is actually very common for people to go from a disappointing set of prelim results to excellent grades in the final exams – this is usually as a result of students reacting in the right way and taking the right steps to fix things.


2) The odds are you’re going to improve!


The experience of taking a prelim is a fantastic way to prepare for the final exam; the most important word in this sentence is… experience!  Saturday School conducted a study of Higher Physics students in 2018 and found that from a selection of 40 students, the average improvement from prelim to final exam was just over four bands!  That’s the equivalent of a C to an A! And, it's very rare for someone to get a lower grade in the final exam compared to their prlelim - provided the school set a proper standard of prelim of course!


3) Prelims are only practice runs


It’s only the prelim and you have plenty of time until the real thing! Yes, prelim grades can be used in alternative certification models but they are not a matter of life and death and don't let schools tell you they are.  Imagine being given a practice run for everything you do in life. Well for exams, the prelims are that practice run!  Despite the result, you now know what is ahead and how it’s going to feel on the day of the real SQA exam.


4) Identify and deal with areas you find difficult


Identify a list of the key areas and skills which you have found troublesome.  This is now your to do list! Take the necessary steps to fix these issues either on your own, with the help of a teacher, tutor or parent. If you are unsure then ask your teacher or tutor for a breakdown of where you are losing marks and what skills he/ she thinks you need to work on.  Approach staff for help, that’s what we are paid for!


5) Approach level changes correctly


Many pupils fear that failing a prelim means being “moved down” and can question whether or not it is really fair to be changed from N5 to N4 based on a prelim result halfway through the academic year. Level changes are necessary for learners to be set at the right level but if you disagree with any proposed level changes then set up a meeting with the school and your parents to explore the options.  A genuine commitment by the student to improve followed by lots of hard work and study can be what’s required to stay at the desired level. Remember that a level c