Have a positive attitude
Which of the statements below are true for you?
- Exams hold no fear for me.
- I prefer exams to other forms of assessment.
- I see exams as a constructive part of my learning.
- Exams are a difficult but necessary hurdle to getting my degree.
- Exams are pointless and stressful.
- Other people find exams really easy. I don’t.
- I dread taking exams.
If your answers are in the top of the list: you have a positive attitude towards exams.Try to keep those positive thoughts in mind as you prepare for and take your exams. Even if you have had bad experiences of exams in the past, you can develop a positive attitude by thinking about all the things you have learned since the beginning of the unit, and remembering that taking the exam will contribute positively to your learning and understanding.
Plan what to revise
Create a revision schedule which prioritises the most important elements to be learned, but is realistic and balanced. Look at past papers and assignment questions you have already been set to understand the material which will be covered, and take on tutor feedback to focus your revision on your weaker areas.
If you need to develop your exam technique or writing skills, look closely at model answers to see how they are structured. Practise answering questions in timed conditions so that you can be realistic about how much you can write in the time provided.
Knowledge builds over time and is develops when we actively engage with material:
- Revise little and often. Regular revision in small doses - say half hour slots - is more productive than working for hours on end.
- Revise with a purpose by asking yourself questions: ‘What was the main point of that lecture/tutorial/book/discussion?’
- Aim at summarising topics or areas of knowledge.
- Use boxes, stars, arrows or coloured pens to highlight important points and make connections.
- Learn by understanding, not by rote. This will help you with more complex questions.
- Write difficult formulae, important references etc on postcards and place them in prominent positions.
- Take every opportunity you can to discuss your study areas with your tutors and classmates to check you are revising the right things.
If you can create strong links between information, you are much more likely to remember it. Try out the following strategies to boost your memory in preparation for your exams.