Best Secret Study Tips to Score Higher in O Levels

by Mahrukh Husain

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Why am I not able to remember when I study?”, ”How to study in 1 hour” and “How to remember everything I have studied?” are all questions that many O Level students ask. Perhaps for them, the most stressful time of the year is when they have to start preparing for their O Level exams. In such situations, having some roadmap or guide that can help you navigate the reams and reams of study material and ultimately get a good grade is bound to be beneficial. And that’s where we come in!


How Your Brain Works

When you attempt to learn a new concept or subject, the neurons in your brain, known as the 'hippocampus', are activated. The continuous studying or memorizing keeps the neurons activated and initiates repeated firing between the brain cells, thereby strengthening their connection. 

Eventually, the information is stored in the brain responsible for maintaining long-term memory; the neocortex. How that happens is still a mystery, but many suspect it happens between study sessions and during sleep

Once the new information is stored in the neocortex, it is classified along with other related topics. Each time that information is recalled, the neocortex is activated which, in turn, ensures its increased adaptability; the knowledge in question can be updated, strengthened, and further re-categorized with other related concepts. 


Study Technique: 3 Secret Study Tips to Score Highest in Exams

Now that you know the inner workings of our memory machine, a.k.a. our brain, let’s move on to the different techniques you can use to study better and improve your overall academic performance. 

Test Yourself:

Testing yourself through quizzes or flashcards can help strengthen your brain and reinforce its memory. How does that happen? It's pretty simple, it happens because each time you test yourself, you are actively retrieving the needed information. Most students prefer re-reading textbooks or highlighting their notes or important questions in O Level past papers, but that is not beneficial in the long run. This is because it gives a false sense of security as the information is always right in front of you. Testing yourself allows you to accurately estimate how much you already know about the subject. Out-Class uses this very technique by incorporating pop quizzes throughout their video lectures. Thus, making sure all the accurate information is retained by the O Level student in the least amount of time.

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This is probably something that may seem like an antithesis to the entire concept of studying but, in reality, helps you retain new information for longer. Interleaving is a studying term used to describe the mixing of different topics or subjects you’re supposed to focus on in a single session. This is done best with the help of flashcards and ensures better retention than practicing a single skill or topic, one at a time. The reasoning behind this tip is that cycling between topics forces your brain to forget and then retrieve the memorized information. This helps further strengthen the memory.


Spacing it Out: 

While you may be tempted to cram everything in a single session, it may not be a good idea. As Science suggests, to ensure better retention and a stronger memory, it is recommended to take regular breaks and rest in between sessions. Even while not actively learning, our brain still works overtime, storing and integrating the newly learned information within the neocortex. Attempting to learn and memorise massive piles of information within a short time (say, the night before an exam) will inevitably result in it not being stored in your long-term memory, causing you to forget. 


Tips to Concentrate on Studies for Longer Hours:

Why am I not able to remember when I study?

Many O Level students face this problem - the inability to remember what they have just learned even after they test themselves on the subject. The most important thing to remember here is to not worry. According to experts, making mistakes strengthens the learning process in the long term. As you think hard for the answer, your brain activates the relevant pieces of information already present within. Then, once the correct answer is revealed, the brain works faster to connect this new piece of information with what you already know. So, the more mistakes you make, the better your memory gets!


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Tips on How to Study in 1 Hour:

Okay, planning your study schedule and using the appropriate techniques to remember important pieces of information is one thing, but what if you’re caught up in a situation where you only have an hour to prepare for a high-priority test or an O Level exam? In such cases, it may be easy to give in to panic and anxiety. However, the best thing to do at that time is to focus on the essentials, depending on which O Level subject you’re meant to be studying. 

If it’s a Science or Math test you’re supposed to be studying for, focus on revising formulae or equations. If it’s English or Urdu, concentrate on learning author names and their characters. If it’s Pakistan Studies History or Islamiyat, check the important event dates that may have taken place. 

The next step is to try and predict what kind of questions you’ll be asked, and there is no better way to do that than through O Level past papers. O Level past papers are also a great way to practice what kind of answers CAIE examiners are looking for. The key is to focus on the O Level questions that you’re mildly uncomfortable with but can answer should they come up. 

Finally, as you’re preparing to enter the exam hall, re-read the material you’re a little unsure of, make mental notes of anything you think can be asked in the paper, take a deep breath and go for it. 



Hopefully, with these 3 secret study tips to score the highest in exams, you will be well on your way towards getting a good grade in your O Level exams. If you’re looking for a little extra help and guidance to help with your preparation, visit

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