What the Oscars Can Teach Us About Exam Success!


Most people wouldn’t normally associate the glitz and glamour of the Oscars with exam success but  you can actually draw some surprising similarities.


When it comes to the Oscars the big prize is obviously ‘Best Picture’, this is what gets all the buzz; it’s the most coveted and the most prestigious award on the night. Whereas when it comes to your exams, obviously getting straight A’s and getting into college is the big prize. Both have the undeniable smack of success but they also both have the misconception of how much work actually goes into achieving them.


The Oscars and Exams?

Many people look at the ‘Best Picture’ award through one lens; this film will win because it was directed by X, or stars Y, but really this just one aspect of what makes a film Oscar-worthy. Likewise with exam preparation and study success, people say X is just a genius or Y is just naturally gifted. While in some cases this may be true, for the most part winning Best Picture or achieving exam success is an ensemble performance!


Not since the very early days has a film won the best picture Oscar without either winning another Oscar first. In fact, for a film to pick up the Best Picture Oscar they usually need to win a couple of others first. Take a look at this year’s nominations (below); all of them have nominations in at least three other categories and I can guarantee you the winner of this years Best Picture will have won a couple of other awards on the night first!


Oscar Nominations 2013:

  • Amour: Best Actress, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay (4)
  • Argo: Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing, Best Musical Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Adapted Screenplay (6)
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild: Best Actress, Best Director Best Adapted Screenplay (3)
  • Django Unchained: Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography Best Sound Editing and Best Original Screenplay (4)
  • Les Misérables: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress , Best Costume Design , Best Make-up and Hairstyling, Best Song, Best Production Design Best Sound Mixing (7)
  • Life of Pi: Best Cinematography , Best Director, Best  Editing, Best Musical Score, Best Song, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects and Best Adapted Screenplay (9)
  • Lincoln: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography , Best Costume Design,  Best Director , Best  Editing, Best  Production Design, Best Sound Mixing and Best  Adapted Screenplay (10)
  • Silver Linings Playbook: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best  Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Musical Score and Best Adapted Screenplay (8)
  • Zero Dark Thirty: Best Actress, Best Editing Best Sound Editing and Best Original Screenplay (4)


The average number of nominations is 6 ( 6.11 recurring to be precise). So what does this tell us about exams?

Simply put, you won’t get an A if don’t first win some ‘smaller awards’ along the way first, by studying hard and with some hardcore exam preparation and exam revision!

What the hell does this mean, I hear you ask? It could be getting a B in your Mid-term exams or other school exams, taking kick ass study notes or adhering to the perfect study timetable. What is really important to note is that only very, very occasionally does a film need to win all the awards before they win Best Picture. This means you only need to be great in certain areas to get the big prize!

So, while you might think you need to be perfect to achieve exam success, really all you need are some of the skills. The most important skill of all? Know what skills will work best for you!  So, here is a list of all the Oscar categories/exam skills. Pick the most relevant ones for you and that Best Picture Award is yours!


How to Study for an Oscar

  • Best Director: You’re not the best in any one area of study but excel at taking the best bits of each revision area to suit your own study needs! You have a vision and use a small mix of all the revision elements to achieve it
  • Best Actor/Best Actress: You’re not afraid of studying hard and you dedicate yourself to study every day! You learn off your theory and you know practice makes perfect! Perseverance and the hard slog when studying are the order of the day for you
  • Best Supporting Actor/Actress: Although it mightn’t seem like it, choosing the right friends to study with is a study skill and could give you a vital edge when it comes to exam success. Picking the right people that compliment your study weaknesses is the best approach. If you suck at French, study with someone who is fluent! It’s a two-way study relationship though, you need to help them study too
  • Best Original Screenplay: Never under estimate the value of good note taking, whether in class or at home as you study. You are easily able to garner rich insight from classes, lectures, books, articles etc. and make connections others can’t see from your own study notes
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: If note taking isn’t your style, mooch of your supporting cast (classmates) and adapt their study notes for your needs! Be sure to give credit where credit is due though!
  • Best Editor: When push comes to shove the best note takers can be swamped with too much information, theory and study notes, a good editor can make sense of an entire curriculum and synthesise loads of study notes into manageable study content!
  • Best Music: Sometimes good study needs a good soundtrack! Make sure you find the style that suits you for your study habits
  • Best Cinematography: You frame your study in the best light, you know what you want to achieve and set about achieving it with study goals! Unlike a director you use less study elements but go more in-depth with the ones you use
  • Best Costume Design: Studying right requires the correct wardrobe; sweat pants are good start!
  • Best Production Design: A sturdy desk, a well maintained stationary drawer; these are the stalwarts of a good study environment but the true genius makes their study environment their own, their own study habitat!

If you can achieve the right mix of the above  you may very well be in contention for the big prize! Are you on the way to exam success?



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