Exam Preparation Tips

18 May 2020


Give yourself plenty of time to study.

The most effective study patterns allow for regular and ‘spaced practice’. This means study throughout the semester and not last-minute cramming. Study ideally starts when your lectures start but, in the weeks coming up to the exams, consider setting up a timetable to use your remaining time in the best way possible. Write down when your exams are and work backwards from there.

Know what you need to study.

You’ll need to know what you need to study and break it up into topics. Allow time for each subject. Breaking up your study into manageable chunks will help you organise a daily and a weekly timetable. Include time to develop study resources and practise past papers under exam conditions.

Find a decent study space.

Remove distractions. This may mean moving away from the computer games or putting your phone on flight mode! If you work better in a very organised space, then organise your space. Just try to avoid tidying up as a form of procrastination. A perfect study environment isn’t always possible. If that’s the case, it’s important to do something rather than nothing, even if it’s something little.

Create study resources.

The process forces you to identify and categorise the most important information, and then the resources can be used to commit information to long-term memory. You could try master summaries, flow charts, diagrams or flashcards. A one-page diagram is a great way to condense your revision notes further. Flashcards, either handwritten or through an app, might take a moment to create, but they can be used to practice in different ways. Use them with questions and answers, keywords and definitions, or key concepts and attributes.

Practice makes perfect.

If you can source past papers, then use them as practice. This is a great way to become accustomed to the format of questions and timed conditions. They also quickly show up areas where you need to spend more time.

Organise a study session with friends.

This could be extremely useful or extremely distracting. If it’s done properly, with boundaries in place, it’s very effective. Friends may have answers that you don’t and, between you, knowledge can be shared.

Explain your answers out loud.

Talking about what you’re studying helps you to put it into your own words. If you can’t explain a concept well, it may mean you’ll have difficulty come exam time. Talk to yourself in an empty room or try it on your family. Mum and Dad may be helpful, younger siblings may not be.

Take breaks and practice self-care.

It might seem counter-intuitive but regular breaks make you more productive. Try to get up and moving every hour – you could consider using the Pomodoro method and a timer. Self-care goes a long way too. Give yourself time to eat square meals, fill up your drink bottle, go for a walk and sleep. Your brain and your body need the rest!

Plan for your exam day.

Check your exam times and venue and check them again. Are you sitting the exam online? Have you trialed the online exam software? Make sure that you are punctual and have the necessary equipment that is allowed – student ID, pencils, eraser, clear water bottle. Being familiar with the process, and arriving comfortably early and prepared, helps reduce some of the stress on the day.


Remember: you can only do your best with the time you have, and no more.


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