Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Hogwarts Guide to Surviving the O.W.L.s & N.E.W.T.s (or Exams, as Muggles Would Say.)

Hold onto your wands and wizarding hats, because exam season is upon us. For you fifth years, you'll be sitting for O.W.L.s (Ordinary Wizarding Levels.) Seventh years, you must take on the N.E.W.T.s (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests.) Muggle-borns, you're probably more familiar with the terms S.A.T. or finals.

Whatever exams you're facing, at Hogwarts or elsewhere, here are some tips to help you achieve high scores. Who knows? You may end up qualified as a future Auror or Minister of Magic! (Or you could leave school in your sixth year to open a joke shop, although I can't recommend competing against Weasley Wizard Wheezes.)

Even if you aspire to an occupation with less fame, such as specializing in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts, this list will aid you in facing all manner of O.W.L.s., N.E.W.T.s, C.A.T.s., S.A.T.s, and any other test you can think up.
  • Seek advice from your head of house, favorite professor, or another wise figure. Listen to their suggestions and encouragement, then find ways to apply what you learn. This is also a great opportunity to express your questions or concerns. (A word of caution: If you seek advice from Professor Snape, don't expect encouragement to go along with it. And avoid expressing those questions and concerns.)
  • Review your notes. Hopefully, you've collected an impressive amount from classes by this time. If you haven't, do not despair. You can always flip back through your textbooks, although going over Hogwarts: A History might take a while. If you'd prefer to avoid extra time spent on the books, see if there's a classmate who will share notes with you. It's recommended to take notes only from classmates like Hermione; if you borrow notes from one of the Weasley twins or Ron, provided they take any, you'll likely be less successful. 
  • Find a study buddy. Not only can you compare notes, you'll be able to motivate each other, perhaps with some friendly competition. Studying is never a thrilling idea, but studying alone can feel like solitary confinement in Azkaban. Having a few friends join in makes almost any task more cheerful. At the very least, you can swap stories about the Potions Professor and the latest Defense Against the Dark Arts debacle. 
  • Find a good place to study. The library is an ideal location, since it's filled with resources and is relatively free of distractions. Just take care to avoid the Forbidden section! 
  • Balance your strengths and weaknesses. If you have a knack for Herbology or Transfiguration, be sure to brush up on it, but don't spend all of your time on that area. In the opposite sense, if you just can't seem to grasp Divination no matter what, don't let it drain your energy. Do your best and move on. When studying, it's easy to become fixated on one portion, but it's important to spread your efforts across subjects. 
  • Don't study on an empty stomach. It can be tempting to skip breakfast in the Great Hall, but learning is far harder with hunger as a distraction. Eat properly, and keep some snacks on hand. A chocolate frog is an excellent pick-me-up. If chocolate can make you feel better after encountering Dementors, it can surely give you a boost after encountering exams. 
  • Carve out some time for fun, too. Studying is serious business, and the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s are top of the priority list. However, cramming until your brain bursts into flames like Fawkes will do no good. A round of Quidditch in the fresh air can help reinvigorate you, and you'll feel more refreshed when it is time to sit your exams. 
  • Be confident! As long as you don't sneak in a Quick Quotes Quill, the proctors of the exam are not out to get you. (Except for maybe a few.) Don't allow anxiety to crowd out all the knowledge you crammed in. Take deep breaths, focus on the task at hand, and earn those O.W.L. scores! 
This is not likely to happen during your exams. 
  • Remember: As important as books and cleverness are, there are more important things than books and cleverness... Such as friendship and bravery. No matter what the results of your exams are, if you have friendship and face life with bravery, you will score high indeed in life. 


  1. Haha, this post is inspired. After a killer muggle final this morning, I clearly need to hunt down a few chocolate frogs.

  2. Solid advice. Fortunately, I've been exempt from silly Muggle exams due to being homeschooled. Still, I'd take Hogwarts and its OWLS and NEWTS any day.