Summer at Hogwarts meant exams. From first-years to seventh-years, all students were meant to take them. But how do you get through such testing times? Well, the professors and students might just have some handy hints…

Revise, revise, revise… and revise some more

We think it’s pretty easy to guess who might give this tip… the one and only Hermione Granger. When it came to exams, nobody worked harder than her. Even when she was a first-year, she took exams seriously. So, we think Hermione would tell you that revision is key. If you fail to prepare, well… prepare to fail. So hit those books and you should do just fine.

Hermione, however, had more on her mind than the Philosopher’s Stone. She had started drawing up revision timetables and colour-coding all her notes. Harry and Ron wouldn’t have minded, but she kept nagging them to do the same.

‘Hermione, the exams are ages away.’

‘Ten weeks,’ Hermione snapped. ‘That’s not ages, that’s like a second to Nicolas Flamel.’

‘But we’re not six hundred years old,’ Ron reminded her. ‘Anyway, what are you revising for, you already know it all.’

‘What am I revising for? Are you mad? You realise we need to pass these exams to get into the second year? They’re very important, I should have started studying a month ago, I don’t know what’s got into me...’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Take it easy… don’t stress too much

Harry and Ron’s approach to revision was rather different to Hermione’s. They took a more… shall we say… laidback approach. If you were to ask them for their tips on how to survive your exams, we think they might just mention the importance of taking a break every once in a while. It is what they did in their O.W.L.s after all.

On Friday, Harry and Ron had a day off while Hermione sat her Ancient Runes exam, and as they had the whole weekend in front of them they permitted themselves a break from revision. They stretched and yawned beside the open window, through which warm summer air was wafting as they played wizard chess.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Malfoy would say it’s about who you know

Now, we’re not advocating this an effective method for passing tests, but if you were to ask this resourceful Slytherin about how to get through exams, he’d probably tell you about this supposed loophole. Malfoys don’t need to worry about silly schoolwork when their connections will get them through life – or so they say – whether Draco was bluffing is an entirely different matter (and we suspect he was).

‘Of course, it’s not what you know,’ he was heard to tell Crabbe and Goyle loudly outside Potions a few days before the exams were to start, ‘it’s who you know. Now, Father’s been friendly with the head of the Wizarding Examinations Authority for years – old Griselda Marchbanks – we’ve had her round for dinner and everything…’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Remember to have a little confidence in yourself

This is important. You’re never going to get through your exams if you don’t believe you can. We all know one Gryffindor that was prone to a little – or a lot – of self-doubt, Neville. Even though he didn’t think he could get through his O.W.L. exams, his professors did as McGonagall reminded him…

‘You cannot pass an O.W.L.,’ said Professor McGonagall grimly, ‘without serious application, practice and study. I see no reason why everybody in this class should not achieve an O.W.L. in Transfiguration as long as they put in the work.’ Neville made a sad little disbelieving noise. ‘Yes, you too, Longbottom,’ said Professor McGonagall. ‘There’s nothing wrong with your work except lack of confidence.’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Snape would probably say a little fear can be very useful…

This tip is slightly controversial, and we don’t approve of the use of humiliation and fear as a tactic. However, there is no doubt Snape’s particular brand of… encouragement was effective. Harry was motivated by the Potions master’s harsh marking and was determined to prove him wrong.

‘The general standard of this homework was abysmal. Most of you would have failed had this been your examination. I expect to see a great deal more effort for this week’s essay on the various varieties of venom antidotes, or I shall have to start handing out detentions to those dunces who get a “D”.’

He smirked as Malfoy sniggered and said in a carrying whisper, ‘Some people got a “D”? Ha!’

Harry realised that Hermione was looking sideways to see what grade he had received; he slid his moonstone essay back into his bag as quickly as possible, feeling that he would rather keep that information private.

Determined not to give Snape an excuse to fail him this lesson, Harry read and reread every line of instructions on the blackboard at least three times before acting on them. His Strengthening Solution was not precisely the clear turquoise shade of Hermione’s but it was at least blue rather than pink, like Neville’s, and he delivered a flask of it to Snape’s desk at the end of the lesson with a feeling of mingled defiance and relief.
Harry and the Order of the Phoenix

Ernie would think there is no harm in a little competition…

Hufflepuffs might not be known for their competitive natures, but Ernie Macmillan certainly had that streak in him. His plan seemed to be the student who put in the most hours of revision overall. Whether he was really in competition with himself or his peers we’re not sure, but hey, if it works it works!

‘I’m doing eight,’ said Ernie, puffing out his chest. ‘Eight or nine. I’m getting an hour in before breakfast every day. Eight’s my average. I can do ten on a good weekend day. I did nine and a half on Monday. Not so good on Tuesday – only seven and a quarter. Then on Wednesday –’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Surprisingly, you might find McGonagall thinks there is more to life than exams

Yes, tests are important – we’re not arguing with that – but they’re not everything. There is more to life than exams and working hard and revision (even if Hermione might disagree). It’s important to keep things in perspective and to know when to prioritise – as the Hogwarts professors decided once the threat of the Basilisk was no more.

Professor McGonagall standing up to tell them all that the exams had been cancelled as a school treat (‘Oh, no!’ said Hermione)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets