What do Strictly and Exams have in common? More than you might think…

Do you love Strictly Come Dancing?

I do.

I'm rarely happier than when I sit down on a Saturday night to watch the shimmies, the sparkles and the spangles of the magical world that is Strictly. I smile from ear to ear as I watch the chasses, heel-leads and lifts. I shout at Craig when he's horrible, I chuckle at Len's cheesy puns and I revel in Claudia's tongue-in-cheek cleverness.

It's a little girl's fantasy world of romance, pretty dresses and the spotlight. And, it's light relief from the serious work of helping you through your exams!

But, what really fascinates me is what strictly and exams have in common.

So, what do Strictly and exams have in common?

Basically, one week of strictly is like a whole exam year. Now you may be thinking my Biology teacher isn't as good looking as Gleb, my Italian teacher isn't as bonkers as Bruno and my school uniform certainly isn't covered in sequins. So, let me explain…

The hard work

Monday to Thursday for the Strictly celebrities and their professional dancers is where the serious teaching, learning and hard-work happens. They set chunks of time aside everyday to do the learning and make the whole dance stick. This is the fundamental foundation on which the weekend's performance is based.

This is like September to Easter of your exam year. To lay the foundations of a successful exam season come May and June this is the time when you need to get your head-down. You need to set up a consistent study routine to make sure you've got all the course content covered, there are no gaps in your notes and you're confident in your understanding and knowledge.

The studio rehearsal

On Friday the Strictly pros and celebrities head to the studio for the rehearsal. The make sure the dance works in the space of the TV studio, the lightight and camera shots are rehearsed and costumes are fitted for the final time.

This is like revision season. There's a clear plan for what activities have to be done when – which couples practice in the studio at what time, who has costume fittings when etc. This is the Strictly version of a revision plan – a timetable that helps you to make sure all the essential topic areas are revised before the day of the exam. Without a revision timetable you run the risk of running out of time.

The final rehearsals are also like the exam technique practice you need to put in right at the very end. The Strictly couples are making sure their dance fits on the dance floor (that's like making sure you can keep to time in your exam). They're also making sure that all the flourish and polish they need to get high scores are included in their dance. This is like you making sure you understand the mark scheme and you're a pro at picking up all the marks available for every question.


On show day the celebrities are feeling a range of emotions from sheer terror to quiet confidence, depending on their level of preparation and how they feel about being marked by the judges and voted on by the nation.

This is similar to the last 24 hours before an exam.

Wise celebrities will develop a preparation routine that helps to calm their nerves and build their confidence. You will do this too if you want to be on peak form in your exam. Do anything to make yourself well-rested, focused, polished and energised.


As the theme-music starts to play the adrenaline will start to rise in the Strictly dancers' veins. They know this is now-or-never. This is live-TV and there are no second chances. They can either walk out onto the floor smiling and confident, reassured that all that preparation they've done is going to carry them through. Or they can shake and whimper at the prospect, let their focus wonder and mess up the only take they have.

When you're standing outside the exam hall your feelings will be determined by the months, weeks and days of preparation you've put into this exam. If you know you've done your utmost from the previous September, doing the work, the revision, the exam practice and the final preparations you'll be calmly confident, looking forward to showing off what you know.

However, if you haven't done the work you may well be a quivering wreck. You know you're lacking so you're nervous about the test that's being thrown at you.

I know which one of those situations I'd prefer to be in.

The scores and the results show

Once the dancers have done their dance they can relax, but not completely. It matters what the judges think of the dance they've done. The judges play the role of examiner for the Strictly couples. However, the also have the public vote to worry about.

During the results show the tension builds as they wait to find out who stays and who goes. This is like the build-up of worry before results day. It's actually a bit pointless to get too wound up about it because you can no longer change the result, but you fall into the trap of worry anyway because of the atmosphere of building tension around you.


The dancers can relax and let their hair-down for a few hours. This is like the post-results celebrations you have with your friends or family. Make the most of this time because, before you know it, you'll be thrown back into another exam year (or you'll pack your bags and be off to university).

The role of friends and family

You often see the Strictly celebrities' friends and family in the audience or visiting them in the dance studio. The part they play is vital, as is the part your friends and family play in the success of your exam year.

The celebrities families take on some of the ordinary tasks like washing and cooking. The families make sure their dancer is provided with healthy snacks. But, most importantly, they provide moral support, a shoulder to cry on and someone to celebrate successes with.

If you're a mum or dad, remember the vital supporting act you play in helping your children through an exam year and relieving stress where you can. If you're the student, be clear about the practical help and support you need from your family.

If you need more help and advice to get you through the different stages of exam year get your copy of my ebook The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take. It takes you from September to exam day with step-by-step advice on how to make the most of your year, getting you the best grades with minimum fuss and stress.

Over to the viewers at home (or should I say readers…)

How's your exam year going to date? Would you give yourself a spangly ten out of ten for hard-work and dedication? Or, would you give yourself a measly one for total lack of motivation and effort? Leave me a comment telling me your exam year Strictly score and why you've given yourself that mark.

Did you like this Strictly inspired blog post? I had such fun writing it I'd love you to share it with a Strictly-loving, exam-taking friend.



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