Study Skills: Exams
Exams are a part of college life. Preparing and studying for exams will give you a better chance of doing well in them. Here are some tips to help you prepare for exams.
Before the exam period starts:
- Find out the details of your exams:
- Find out what accommodations are available to you if require special arrangements
- The regulations e.g
- what you're allowed to bring with you
- what happens if you're ill before or during the exam
- The format - multiple choice, essay, short answer or a mixture of these
- The topics that will be covered - ask your tutor
- Date, time and location (check regularly, in case they change in the lead-up to the exam)
- Know yourself! Find what routines work best for you so that you can make the most of your study time
- When do you study best: morning/afternoon/evening?
- Where do you prefer to study?
- How long can you work before you need to take a rest
- Do you work better by yourself or as part of a study group?
- Do you prefer silence or soft or loud music in the background?
- How long can you concentrate before you need to take a break?
- Start revising well in advance - cramming (starting at the last minute) is a bad idea because you won't remember as much
- Draw up a timetable of what you will study and when you will study it
- Study sessions should be an hour or two in length and focus on one topic
- Start with the most difficult or complex topics first, as you'll probably need to spend more time revising these.
- Remember active reading and note taking strategies
- If you get stuck on a topic, seek help - ask your classmates or your tutor
- If you have access to past or example exam papers, answer their questions
- Take regular breaks
- If you get tired, stop!
- Don't let exam study disrupt your regular activities
Before an exam:
On the night before:
- just go over what you already know, don't try to revise new topics
- Think about the exam details one more time
- Make some time to relax and try to get a good night's sleep
On the day:
- Eat a good breakfast. Don't be hungry during the exam!
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to the exam location
- Bring a bottle of water with you. If you need a pre-exam snack, an energy bar, flapjack or a piece of fruit is good
- Read the exam rules and questions. Take note of the marks available for each question
- Plan your answers before you start writing
- Don't get bogged down - if you can't answer a question, leave it and then come back to it when you've answered the other questions.
- If you finish before time, use the remaining time to read over your answers and check there's anything you missed or anything you want to add. Remember, there's no gold medal for being first finished!
After an exam:
- Have a think about what went well and what didn't.
- Don't spend time rehashing what didn't go well, the important thing is that you learn for next time
- Reward yourself for your hard work