The Harry Potter Guide: Preparing for OWL and NEWT Exams

Let us first eliminate the loopholes. There is no chance another fantastic beast or creature will result in the cancellation of exams this year. Secondly, before you start thinking about eating one of Fred and George’s “Fainting Fancies,” a “Fever Fudge,” or a “Nosebleed Nougat” to delay the inevitable, it is better to focus your efforts by writing a plan of action, which includes a workable, livable studying schedule. Easing frustration and anxiety will help all students discover they truly can achieve a score of “exceeds expectations” or—better yet—“outstanding” on exams.   This month, the Harry Potter Guide will offer tangible tips to keep a student’s mind focused and confident, as the countdown towards OWLS and NEWTS and other exams, begins.


“Ron had been startled to discover there were only six weeks left until their exams. ‘How can that come as a shock?’ Hermione demanded as she tapped each little square on Ron’s timetable with her wand…‘I dunno,’ said Ron, ‘there’s been a lot going on.’

‘Well, there you are,’ she said, handing him his timetable. ‘If you follow that, you should do fine.’ Ron looked down it gloomily. ‘You’ve given me an evening off every week!’ ‘That’s for Quidditch practice,’ said Hermione.”

Of course, Ron was unhappy to find his days and nights were bound by reviewing class notes, reading chapters, analyzing all tests and quizzes, in addition to completing nightly homework. Similar to Ron, there are many clever family members and friends who can help you create a study schedule. As a student, you will have to sacrifice to see the goal of seeing the grade you desire. Studying alone or with friends, it is wise to adhere to the schedule by focusing on your most difficult subjects at least twice a week, and not adding any new commitments. The best way to increase your energy level and reduce stress is to grab your lucky broom and put forth 100 percent effort into your Quidditch practices.

The Value of Breaks

“The exams were nearly upon them, and instead of lazing around outside, the students were forced to remain inside the castle, trying to bully their brains into concentrating, while enticing wafts of summer air drifted in through the windows.” Yes, there will be many enticements to abandon your chair, notes and books. While you must keep the promise to start studying at a particular hour and for a specific duration of time, there is relief in the break, especially when frustration or exhaustion is evident.   “‘I’ll never remember this,’ Ron burst out one afternoon, throwing down his quill and looking longingly out of the library window.”   What you choose to do for those five to ten minutes is up to you. Shooting a few baskets, apparating into the kitchen for a snack, or sending an OWL to a good friend will rejuvenate your mind and spirit long enough to return to studying.  

Will and Won’t

Breathe. Yes, breathe. Students need to remember that they have taken important tests for years. Determine what strategy works best for you. For instance, do you need to listen to understand the information? Perhaps, if you are an auditory-style learner and need to see and write to grasp the content.   It is okay to be nervous.  “‘Well, that’s a good sign, I never feel you perform as well in exams if you’re not a bit nervous,’ said Hermione heartily.” Most importantly, believe in yourself. If you have studied and are getting a good night’s rest, you “will” do well.   There is no room for negative statements.

Cast a Reflection Spell

“‘Hermione,’ said Ron sternly, ‘we’ve been through this before…we’re not going through every exam afterwards. It’s bad enough doing them once.’” One of the most important and forgotten strategies is reflection. How often do you ask yourself, “Why did I achieve or fall short of the grade I wanted?” and “How can I improve as a student in studying and completing homework, and taking tests?” Learning never stops, whether you are a student or an adult. The achievement comes when students can recognize their mistakes, tweak the plan twice or three times and celebrate success. Good luck!