How to Pass Examinations Successfully

As autumn is just around the corner, many students will be preparing to move on to university and begin a new stage in their lives. Despite all the exciting changes that this will bring, one thing will remain constant. This is the inevitable fate of examinations and assessments that you hope to do well in (even those of you who leave it to the last minute!). For all of you students who have just been off on holiday, going to festivals or just staying home enjoying your temporary freedom, I wanted to share with you a bit of advice to help you through the next academic year. ‘How to Pass Examinations Successfully’ as found in Boys Illustrated Annual (c.1894) outlines top tips from the late 19th century which are still useful over 100 years later.

Boys Illustrated Annual Front Cover, c.1894
Boys Illustrated Annual Front Cover, c.1894

In order to do well in your education you are required to ‘possess the nature of application’ as intelligence without this would not take you far. You are expected to find out ‘how little you really know’ as these are the areas in which you can apply yourself. The process of learning is neither quick nor easy, but in order to succeed one must become a master of their own subject.

Here is a list of Victorian tips on how to excel in your education:

  • ‘Consider your health and spend as much time as you can out of doors’
  • ‘If it be possible arrange your studies methodically, fixing so long to each subject, and having intervals of recreation, pleasant chat and outdoor exercise’
  • ‘Whilst undergoing the course of study, never lose sight of the idea that all your efforts are necessary’

For those of you who are also employed:

  • ‘Do not commence study immediately after business, but spend an interval in the fresh air’
  • ‘After a day of business it is difficult to grasp the subjects clearly, and the mind is apt to wander’

And last but not least:

  • ‘Do not work yourself in to a miserable and nervous state of mind, but think calmly that you will do your best, let the result be what it may.’

The subjects that are on offer and the way we are taught may have advanced but it’s nice to know that the methods for doing well and being happy remain the same. To all of those starting at the University of Worcester this autumn, I wish you good luck!


Boys Illustrated Annual, p.117
Boys Illustrated Annual, p.117