Exams can be very stressful if you are not prepared for them. This guide contains some practical tips for preparing for and doing your best in exams.
Weeks Before the Exam(s)
Preparation is vital to doing well in exams. For each subject follow the tips below, starting from your very first class:
Review your class notes weekly. For each week write up a
summary of what you have learned.
- At least two weeks before the exam (earlier if there are
multiple exams), read through your notes and summaries,
and abbreviate them into mind-maps. Memorise them.
- Next, try writing out your mind-maps straight from memory
(without looking!) and see what you can remember… study
more closely any areas you are having difficulty with.
- In addition to study, practice answering questions from your
subject– use tutorial questions and old exam questions (if
available). Practicing answering questions will prepare you
for answering similar questions in the exam.
Remember that the more study/work you do early on, the higher your examination results will be.
The Night Before the Exam
The night before the exam is when you need to make sure you are equipped for the upcoming examination:
Go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep – if you feel rested, you will perform better in the exam.
The Day of the Exam
On exam day, prepare yourself using the following tips:
- Wake up 2 hours earlier than usual and revise your notes/summaries (so it's fresh in your memory).
- Eat some breakfast/food beforehand- you don't want to be distracted by hunger in your exam!
- Aim to get to the examination 30 minutes early- this gives you some 'breathing space' to overcome delays and avoid more stress (or panic!). Don't arrive late to your exam.
- Use the bathroom before the exam- don't lose valuable exam time on trips to the toilet.
In the Exam
There are many rules to follow in the exam, and tips to help you tackle your exam to the best of your ability. These are:
Read and follow all instructions from the exam paper and supervisors.
- When allowed, check your exam paper to make sure you have all
questions/ pages (check nothing is missing).
When allowed, fill out your personal details on the answer booklet- name,
Student ID number, subject, etc.
- If allowed (if there is a 10 minute reading time), read through the
questions- this will calm your nerves and get you thinking!
- Be aware of how much time you should spend on each section, for example
in a two hour essay exam with two questions worth equal marks, spend 1
hour on each question.
- For an essay question, plan your answer first.
- To keep track of time in the exam, set your watch to 12.00– the
moment the exam starts, start your watch.
- If you can not think of an answer to a question, then leave space and move
to the next one. If you have time, come back to that question.
- If you finish early, go through your exam page and check your answers.
- If you are happy with all your answers, then you can leave early, if allowed
by the supervisor!
After the Exam
Chat with your friends and relax! Don't take too seriously any boasting from other people. If you’ve followed the tips in this guide, then you really have done your best!
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