Thursday, 26 April 2012

How to survive a GCSE Art Exam.

I have finally finished my exam.
All of those loving hours laboured since January on my Sketchbook and plans have been taken and locked away following 2 days (10 hours) in my Art exam.


From this though, I have gained wisdom, and I offer them to you now, as plainly simple or stupid they may seem, so those who read it can prosper within an Art Exam where one must be silent for ten hours with no music or anything else as a distraction.
They work. Trust me.

And, appropriately, as the exam took 10 hours, I offer you 10 tips.

~Take up as much space as you want/need~
It is not fun working in a small, cramped space. If you need an easel, make sure you get one. If you need TWO easels, you should be allowed to have both. I took up two entire tables with all of my vague wandering pieces of artwork, and nobody minded at all. Obviously, there are limits: you can't have an entire classroom to yourself. That would be weird.

~If you have long hair, tie it back, out of the way~
There is nothing worse than having to pick pieces of clay, or streaks of paint, out of your hair.

~Bring enough food to sustain you~
When you are faced with ten hours without any interaction from anyone other than the teacher, food will always be your comfort. Just make sure not to bring anything that will become sticky over your hands, or involve wrappers.
I brought sweets, muffins, brownies and cheese straws...
~Make sure you have enough equipment~
Sounds stupid, I know, but by the end of the year, the schools seem to run out of art supplies. Like Paint. And brushes. Bring your own if you can. They'll be more familiar, and you won't have to worry about not having enough.
Another thing, don't leave buying a canvas until the last minute: chances are, everyone else from your school and the surrounding area will be having the same problems and buying the same things.

~Tidy up as you go along~
It is not fun having to clean brushes that have been dried with paint on them. Or palettes.

~Set your own, realistic targets~
Some people work quicker than others, so set your targets for your pace. Ignore the fact that someone may be doing something huge, or something small. Estimate your pace, and ignore everybody else. You want to be able to at least finish it.

~Make sure you have stuff to do when your finished~
I can tell you this from experience. I finished early, and having annotated and stuck in everything for my book, on all of my mounted sheets, I was kind of stuck. I ended up plaguing my teacher for things to do.... extra studies to fit in here there and everywhere. Have a plan for afterwards, something that wouldn't entirely matter if you didn't reach it though, mind you.

~Don't talk, it's not worth it~
One girl in another class nearly got disqualified. That means your entire exam, your entire Art GCSE gone by a few words slipping out. Not a good idea.

~Wear an apron~
Paint, unless watercolours, does not come out of trousers, or jumpers, or shirts. I know you may hate your school uniform (I do) but that is no excuse.

~Make sure you know you can handle the deadline~
Another class thought they had an extra two weeks to finish their sketchbooks. You don't. As soon as that exam finishes, they want those books. Make sure you remember that. Don't get sucked in and still having loads to do, when you just don't have the time. This is when people end up staying up until midnight trying to finish it.
Because it HAS to be finished.


  1. You've just reminded me how long ago it was that I did my GCSE art exam, the 9 years have gone so quick! You're so true with your pointers, having everything near you makes it so much easier and keeps you being organised. The ten hours seemed nothing when I then went on to do the 15 hours A Level art exam!

  2. A Level is 15 hours? Brilliant! I loved the exam, I came home very relaxed and calm after both days (mainly because I'd been logical and thought of all of these before I went, meaning I didn't have to stress over my book in the middle like some did).

  3. I've completed the Russian Doll Nails! Let me know what you think :D