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Author: ADMIN (ukstudent at gmail dot com)
Published: Sun, 23-Apr-2006
Rating 6.53
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When the exam period is approaching you will feel anxious and nervous. THIS IS NATURAL!! This is the time when you will be expected to demonstrate your level of understanding and knowledge in the subjects studied. The revision and examination periods need to be just as carefully organised as the course weeks were. Remember that mid-course time-constrained tests can feel just as unnerving - use them to develop a systematic approach to preparation and examination sitting. This will help to diffuse the pre-examination nerves.



Start by getting a copy of the exam timetable, and calculating the time available until the start of the exams. You will then need to devise a revision timetable. As with all your personal timetables, remember to include time for the other commitments you may have, including eating, preparing meals, relaxation and spending some time with family or friends. Relaxation is even more important now as a means to control your nerves. After filling in for these activities plan the time you will spend on each topic to be revised. The more review and revision you have done after lectures and tutorials, the less revision you will need! When learning and testing is constrained within a fourteen week time-slot it is very important to start revisiion and review in week one.


Don't revise a subject to completion and then start on another as this will probably result in forgetting the first subject revised with little time to make this up. It is much better to spend half a day on one subject and then move on to another. This will help you to retain information more effectively. When you return to a subject spend some time refreshing your memory on the material previously revised and then move on to new material.

Once you have organised the revision timetable you will need to organise your sources. Much of your revision will revolve around notes and material gained from lectures and tutorials. However, it is important that you use other sources as well. If you have already followed up all your formal study with complementary private study and note making, much of this preparation will already be done. However if you didn't you will need to go through all your notes, rewriting them and complementing them with notes from other sources. These will typically be course texts, hand out material and past exam papers. (N.B. Past exam papers can be accessed in the Learning Resource Centre, however you will find that many Module Handbooks include a copy of the previous year’s paper. Course texts will be available in the library on Temporary Reference and some will also be available in the Learning Resource Centre.) Towards the end of this process you should be establishing links and relationships between the main points.

Part of your preparation should include the identification of key themes and topics which may be examined. Past exam papers are useful for this as you will recognise recurrent themes and gain some insight as to how questions are structured. It is also wise to keep in mind the topics which were used as assessment work during the course as these often recur on the examination paper.

Your notes should give you some idea as to the emphasis given to each topic.

Once you have identified the key themes and points, you need to revise from your notes and produce a more condensed version of these for quick revision. Keep study periods short with a maximum time of 20 to 25 minutes. Then take a 5 or 10 minute break with perhaps a short walk or change of scenery. Make your revision active by continually reviewing material covered and by testing yourself by trying exercises and answering questions that the revision has raised.

Once you feel that you have mastered a particular topic it is wise to look again at past papers and test whether your knowledge is deep enough to answer the questions. It is better to find out now if there are any gaps in your understanding. It will also help you to gain confidence which is vitally important if you are to perform well during the exam period.

With a few days to go it may be unwise to introduce new topics, consolidation of the material already learned can be more productive. However this is a matter of personal preference and many students often feel they have performed best on those topics that were studied the night before - but don't depend on it! Try to maintain your sleep patterns during this period and keep your confidence high by concentrating on how much you know rather than worrying about the things you don't know.


On the day BEFORE an exam check the time, venue and whereabouts of the venue for the exam and check that all the equipment you will need is present in your bag including calculators and batteries. Try not to do ANY REVISION from the evening BEFORE the exam up to the start time. This allows your brain to rest and consolidate what you have crammed into it!

When the day of an exam arrives it is natural to feel nervous and tense. Recognise and accept these feelings and then start practising your relaxation exercise. It is a good idea to take a brisk walk as this is very good for reducing the effects of tension and for promoting a positive attitude.

Arrive at the exam room in good time as often you will be allowed to see the exam paper BEFORE the exam starts. During this time you are allowed to read the paper but you cannot start writing until told to do so. Don't waste this time, use it to read the rubric and then all the questions carefully. The rubric will tell you HOW MANY questions you need to answer, whether there is a COMPULSORY question and whether questions must be split between different sections. Answering TOO MANY questions is a waste of effort. Answering TOO FEW questions guarantees FAILURE. Check on the allocation of marks. Read the questions on the paper at least twice. Try to spot key words and phrases or anything in a question that is slightly unusual. But also try to spot the question that looks easiest for you - THIS IS THE ONE TO START WITH.

Once you start answering questions allocate the time evenly between questions and when the time is up on a question, even if you have not finished it, move on to the next. As time passes in answering a question it becomes increasing difficult to earn extra marks. The majority of marks are usually picked up in the first 10 to 15 minutes of attempting a solution.

Keep the examiner in mind when answering a question and obey standard conventions; for example if you are asked to "briefly describe" then keep your answer short and concise giving only the key facts without elaborating. Keep your writing legible and the grammar simple and straight forward. NEVER CROSS OUT a mistake such that the examiner cannot read it - it may earn you valuable marks!!

When starting an essay question give a brief outline showing a logical coherent pattern and when concluding refer back to the original question. If you run out of time on a question then summarise and jot down the main points without elaboration.

After the exam, don't enter into a post mortem as this may well result in a reduction in confidence and so adversely affect your performance in subsequent exams.

© Copyright for this article belongs to University of Sunderland

This document was re-printed with the kind permission of Pat J. Maier. Original Source of the article is located here: http://osiris.sund.ac.uk/~cs0mho/chap14.htm

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