Figuring out what works: how I turned C-grades to top-0.01%-in-the-country exam success

And how I can help you do the same…

… all through the new science of memory and the psychology of high performance

My name is William Wadsworth, and I live just outside Windsor, England. 

I help students find an easier path to exam success, by translating brain-science into highly practical strategies (that really work).

But I wasn’t always the Exam Study Expert…

If you’d looked at my grade cards up to about age 10-12, you’d have seen a sea of Bs and the odd C or D – decidedly mediocre grades.

I had a decent mind and worked hard.

But my memory for facts and information wasn’t great (as my friends and family will tell you if you ask them!).

Pretty serious guy back then, huh? Probably because I didn’t yet know how to study smart…

If there’s one thing I have always been good at, it’s figuring stuff out…

Turned out that if I just worked hard enough

… I could climb to the top of the class.

So by sheer brute force – and countless hours of study – I graduated from school with:

    A* grades at GCSE

    A grades at A Level

    Advanced Extension Awards

    GCSEs and A Levels are the main public exams that UK students take in (high) school. Those grades put me in the top 0.01% of all students in the country.

    But any celebrations didn’t last for long

    I quickly got into serious difficulties at University

    I’d got a place at Cambridge…

    … but found myself straight back at the bottom of the class.

    My old high-school study techniques simply weren’t up to the job.

    I was drowning.

    But I had a secret weapon

    I was studying psychology.

    We’d had one (just one!) lecture introducing the relatively new science of how to learn information, and get it into long-term memory.

    Perhaps I could use some of these techniques to level up my study strategy?

    • I read up on the science of memory.
    • I sought out University experts in academic performance, and learnt from them.
    • And I relentlessly experimented, reflected and refined, to find the perfect ways to put best practice into action.

    I transformed my study techniques, and saved my degree

    I ended up changing everything:

    • Memorisation techniques
    • Time management
    • Strategies I used in the exam itself
    • Even the way I wrote my essays

    Putting my new-found toolkit to work, I managed to rise to the top of the class, ultimately graduating in the top 10% with a First Class degree.

    And this time, it wasn’t just by brute force and studying all hours of the day.

    It was by studying smarter – not harder.

    I began teaching the art of studying smarter

    Time and again, my students found themselves working less AND achieving higher

    I had a day job as a strategy consultant for seven years after graduating. I helped CEOs and top executives at some of the world’s largest media companies make major decisions. It was a blast.

    But my first love was the work I did in the evenings and weekends: tutoring (high) school and university students to help them pass their exams.

    Hundreds and hundreds of hours of 1:1 time with students later, I’d perfected a set of formulas to teach what I know.

    And the results students were getting? They were like never before.

    Exam Study Expert was born in mid-2018

    We’re now helping some half a million students ace their exams every year

    And by January 2019, I’d gone full-time with Exam Study Expert.

    Through this blog and the Exam Study Expert Podcast, I’ve been able help more students than I ever could have imagined – now reaching some half-million students in 150+ countries worldwide, every year, and helping them get the best possible grades in their exams.

    15 years after I started writing it (!) I finally launched my book on exam technique and test-taking strategy – Outsmart Your Examswhich became an overnight best-seller in the relevant Amazon book category.

    Working with students through 1:1 exam success coaching remains hugely important to me. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to work directly with a student to transform their study strategy – and their grades – virtually overnight.

    I also run student revision workshops and learning science keynotes for staff at schools and universities across the UK, and speak at education research conferences such as the British Education Research Association and ResearchED.

    Nothing makes me happier than helping other people find smarter ways to study 🙂

    Learning more

    Returning to my training as a scientist: becoming a learning science researcher

    The basic science of how to study smart and learn for exams is now well-established.

    But there’s still lots more research to do: particularly about how to help students actually use the best-practice techniques from the research.

    Which is why I now spend about half my time as an independent researcher, collaborating with leading academics such as those at the Washington University Memory lab.

    Most recently, we ran what was the largest scientific survey of its kind ever undertaken, surveying 30,000 students on how they prepare for exams. The results are being prepared for publication, and make for some pretty fascinating reading.

    The work at Exam Study Expert is only just beginning.

    Ready to start studying smarter, not harder today?

    Download my Learning Science Cheat Sheet, which introduces the four most important strategies for studying well that every student needs to know.

    My gift to you – enjoy, and wishing you every success in your exams.

    William Wadsworth

    Founder of Exam Study Expert

    Click here to learn more about working with me.

    “William captured the interest of all staff. He explained, in simple terms, how the brain works with regards to memory and then gave some exceptional examples to provide evidence for his points. He was excellent and I would highly recommend him.

    Alex Wallace, Deputy Headteacher

    at one of the UK’s top-ranked schools, after a talk for staff

    “William has taught me how to study successfully and be most effective through his deep understanding of educational psychology, and allowed me to understand how to better manage my time and study more productively. I’m pleased to say that this has been highly beneficial for my degree grade!

    Alexander, student at the University of Bath

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