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How to Study for CXC

Whether you are a private candidate or a student in form 5 or 6, the CXC exams are a very important part of your academic career. These exams could be very intimidating but planning ahead can ease your stress and increase your chances of success.

Here is a list of things that you should do to help you prepare for your CXC CSEC and CAPE exams:

1. Get the syllabus for all your subjects

Your syllabus is your guide for your subjects. It tells you all the topics that you need to cover in order to be prepared for your exams. The syllabus also gives specific details about the structure and grading for each subject. It's important that you have a general understanding of what is required of you for each subject.

Useful Link: You can find the syllabus for each subject here:

2. Do CXC past papers

Similar to the syllabus, past papers also provide important guidance for your exam prep. Going through past papers will help you to get familiar with the types of questions that come and the way marks are allotted. Doing timed past papers is also helpful because you will get an idea of how long it takes to do certain types of questions and you will be able to better pace yourself for the actual exam.

Pro Tip: Aim to secure 10 years of past papers for each subject - this includes paper ones, paper twos and paper threes (if you are a private candidate without an SBA)

There are several ways to approach doing past papers:

By Topics - when you’re finished with studying a topic, you can go through your past papers and look for all the questions on that topic and try them.

By Section - complete section by section of the past paper. For example, working on Section 1 for a period of time before moving on to Section 2.

Entirely - At least 2- 3 months before your exam, you should be able to complete an entire past paper.

Useful Link: You can purchase CXC exam past papers on the official CXC website here: 

Important: If you cannot afford past papers, ask past students and even teachers to help you.

A simple google search may also be very beneficial in your quest for past papers. For example, Kerwin Springer, the founder to The Student Hub has conveniently uploaded the solutions to CSEC Math Exams here:

You can also find past paper solutions to CSEC Math here:

3. Gather subject notes and relevant textbooks

Be sure to get your relevant subject notes and relevant textbooks. There are some very good textbooks on the market that are written specifically for passing CXC exams. You may find recommended texts in the syllabus for each subject. A good, cheap option is to purchase used text books. Textbooks are also excellent for the practice exercises.

4. Set aside time for studying

You need to be deliberate about getting your studying done. This means you NEED to schedule it. Create a study timetable to guide you. Dedicate more time to your weaker subjects, but make sure to schedule all your subjects. Try to aim for at least 2 hours per week for each subject.

5. Plan ahead for your study sessions

Once you have established your study timetable, you must plan for your sessions. Decide beforehand what you are going to study and what material you would need. That way, you can gather all your resources and start to mentally prepare for your sessions. For example, if you plan to review a specific topic during a study session, you can gather all the past paper questions on that topic or your notes before the session begins. When you sit down to study, you will be ready to put in some serious work.

6. Get a study partner (optional)

Sometimes studying alone could be a painstaking task. If you find it difficult to study alone, get a partner. These days you don't even need to be physically present with your study partner, you can do a video call on Zoom or Google Meet or any other video conferencing platform. You and you study partner can also hold each other accountable to the goals that you set for yourselves.

7. Schedule breaks

Set aside designated days and times to relax and unwind. You do not want to risk getting burnt out too soon. You must pace yourself. At the same time, do not get carried away with your breaks, especially the ones that you take during your study sessions. Mindlessly scrolling through social media during a 30 minute break may not be the best idea. It will prove to be more distracting than energising. Instead, during your study sessions, take a walk, stretch or even eat a light snack. These activities are much more energising and would help you to focus.

Exam prep is a marathon not a race and you need to be fit and ready. Although the very nature of CXC exams is stressful, with a proper plan, commitment and consistency, you can enjoy great success. Stay focused and always do your best!

P.S. I wrote a short Ebook for private candidates who are preparing for CXC CSEC exams. You can download it here:

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