Top exam hacking tricks and tips

November 2022

One of PQ magazine’s favourite people to follow on LinkedIn is accountancy exam and career coach James Perry. He recently posted his top hacks for exam success, and here they are…

Hack #1 – The early bird catches the worm.

It really does work!

Getting up early means you are fresher so learn more, make the most of the day and, if you feel you’ve done enough, you can take the evening off.

Hack #2 – Snack on ‘brain food’

Keep your body and brain well fuelled by choosing nutritious foods that have been proven to aid concentration and memory, such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and blueberries.

Hack #3 – While studying speak out loud instead of simply reading.

You will be surprised how much more you can remember when you’ve said it out loud.

Hack #4 – Teach what you have learned.

The best way to test if you really understand something is to try to teach it to someone else.

Hack #5 – Use Google for research.

Use certain operators in order to search Google like a pro – for example by using quotation marks when you search for the exact term.

Hack #6 – Make your study space portable.

Information retention actually improves when you vary the places where you study.

Hack #7 – Use scents or gum to jog your memory.

This may seem a bit random but spraying an unfamiliar scent like perfume or eau de toilette (for the gents) while you’re studying or chewing gum can help jog your memory when you do the same before the exam.

Hack #8 – Draw diagrams.

This creates a visual memory which can be recalled in an exam.

Hack #9 – Drink plenty of water.

Remember that being well hydrated is essential for your brain to work at its best.

Hack #10 – Listen to the ‘correct’ type of music.

The correct types of music can lead to more productive studying by elevating your mood. There is evidence that listening to Mozart improves mental performance – it’s called the ‘Mozart Effect’.

Hack #11 – Times New Roman is the fastest font to read.

There’s a reason why it’s the default font on most applications! Use it when pulling together your notes if you prefer tying to writing.

Hack #12 – Create flashcards.

Quickly test your knowledge of key concepts, definitions, quotes and formulas with flashcards.

Hack # 13 – Meditate.

Studies say that meditation can help students stay focused when studying and it will help reduce pre exam stress as well.

Hack #14 – On exam day, have a balanced breakfast and eat nothing ‘risky’ (probably not the best day to have a super hot curry!).

Have bananas or sweets when doing the exam – this will stop your tummy rumbling mid exam.

Hack #15 – Go for a walk before the exam.

Hack #16 – If there are people around who are panicking, avoid them.

They are not doing you any favours!

Hack #17 – Go to the toilet before the exam starts.

Exams can be quite long and there is no time to waste.

Hack #18 – Remember to write/type your name on the exam paper (if relevant).

You would not believe how many people have forgotten to do it!

Hack #19 – Don’t be afraid to ask the examiner/invigilator if you are not clear on anything.

Hack # 20 – Stay positive. It’s amazing how a positive attitude can impact on your exam results!

You can follow James at