How Can I Prepare For My Next Dance Exam?

Category: Dance Lessons / Last Updated: Mon May 6 / Written By: Michelle

Winston teaching Tammy Tango

Preparing for an exam is something we're all familiar with it.  Here are some tips, and a bit of a checklist, to make taking an exam at QuickSteps a positive, productive, and ultimately successful experience.

Know What's Expected 

  • Do you know what the exam will look like?
  • Where it will be held? 
  • How it will be structured? 
  • What is expected in order to pass? 
  • What steps you will need to perform? 
  • What happens if you make a mistake? 
  • When will you get your result? 

Ask your teacher to run through these questions with you until you feel like you have gotten your head around how the exam will run. 

Make A Plan  

Let your teacher know that you would like to dance the exam. They will set some time to sit with you, look at your current syllabus, and evaluate your progress. Your teacher knows your dancing best and will be able to come up with a plan of attack with you, resulting in a realistic timeframe. 

Remember, exams that are undercooked are no fun at all! Make sure you are well prepared and feeling comfortable and confident with the material before you book your dance exam. It is better to spend more time on the material and push the exam back than to take it too early and get a result you are not happy with. 

Most members will spend 6+ months preparing for an exam with weekly private lessons, multiple groups each week and attending social events for practice. 

Notes, Notes, and More Notes! 

Making notes can be very handy when paired with your paper syllabus and online QuickSteps videos. 

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Some members find that writing out step patterns in terms of foot positions is useful, whilst others find diagrams or stick figures to be better. I like to combine both! :) 

coloured notes for exam prep

Did you know: Researchers believe using different colours to write study notes can help with long term retention of information? So don't be afraid to use lots of different colours when making your notes. 

Let's Talk About Shoes...

Orlena Aqua Ladies Dance Shoes Anja Dance

Image: https://anjadance.com.au

It may seem a little bit 'diva' but I encourage the ladies out there to stop and change shoes between the different sections of the exam of your exam; ballroom and Latin. Wear ballroom shoes for ballroom and Latin shoes for Latin. Head here to find out more about Latin and ballroom shoes. 

The correct shoes can make a world of difference when it comes to to your technique and comfort. 

Short, Regular Practice Sessions 

It is better to practice in small bite sized pieces regularly rather than a couple of longer chunks just before the exam. (In other words... don't cram!) When you cram you are not committing what you are learning to your long term memory and are more likely to forget the material in the future. 

Private lessons are generally 45mins long so try this easy way to increase your practice time each week. 

1. Start 15mins early and dance through some of your patterns before your start with your teacher

2. Stay back for 15mins after your lesson and dance through your patterns again 

This doesn't seem like much but let's do the math. Most members will spend 6 months preparing for an exam. So that little 30mins increase in practice time each week will result in 12 hours of extra practice time! 

Play The Game

A game that the teachers at QuickSteps like to play is 'the Hat Game'. The steps in the syllabus are written on little slips of paper. Teachers take it in turns retrieving a step from the hat. Whichever step is retrieved is the step that they perform. This is an excellent way to practice for an exam as it ensures you are practicing lots of randoms steps and not just repeatedly revising the ones that are easiest for you or your favourites. 

Tip: Pop your hat/container of step patterns on top of the fridge. Each time you got to get something out, choose a step from the hat and dance it in the kitchen. 

Can You Dance By Yourself?

Make a list of all the steps you are working on for the exam. 

Print this list in a large font and stick it on the mirror or wall when you practice. This means you can dance continuously through your steps without stopping to look at your syllabus. 

The Playlist 

Choose a song for each style that you love and find easy to dance to. Make sure the songs are a medium pace so that you can show the correct technique when you dance and don't feel too rushed. 

If you want some song inspiration, follow us on Spotify:  QuickSteps1 and QuickSteps2

Practice Exam 

Ask your teacher to dance through all of the material with you as if it was the real exam - this will give you a real life idea of where you are up to and how it will feel on the day without the stopping and starting of a normal lesson. 

What To Wear? 

  • Wear something you can move comfortably in
  • Practice dancing in your outfit at home first
  • Ensure nothing rides up or falls down when you move
  • Make sure your shoes are recently brushed 

 

Shoe Brush

Good luck, and if you have any questions about exams at QuickSteps please feel free to get in touch.

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