Once you’re in the exam hall there is unfortunately no escape and so the best thing to do is get on with it. However, a little bit of preparation beforehand can make the whole experience less daunting.
Even the most dedicated students need to prepare to get them through exams, the only problem being that revision is not a ‘one size fits all’ method and everyone will do it differently. Look at how you prepared for other exams such as your A-levels and then you’ll hopefully know what works for you and what doesn’t. If you’re still having trouble, here are some tips.
Get a schedule - Before you start, sit down and make a list of all the exams you are taking including dates and times. This will allow you to prioritise your revision and a structure will ensure that you cover all areas.
Keep it brief - The idea of revision notes is that they are brief and include only the most important points, because lets face it it’s going to be hard enough to remember the basics without reproducing the textbook. Write down dates, formulas and the main points of a process or event – making sure that you have armed yourself with enough information to answer any question those pesky examiners throw at you.
Restrict your time - Revising in 20 minute chunks is usually advisable as any more than that and you are likely to drift off and become distracted, Coronation Street anyone? Taking regular breaks will make it seem less like you are being forced into revising and will also let your brain absorb the information. Two to three topics a night is a good way to get through everything. Try to mix these up as doing all the sections that you deem easy at the beginning and leaving the ‘difficult’ sections to the last minute probably won’t work out too well.
Calm down - Once you’ve done the revision and know your stuff the only things you can do then are calm down, drink plenty of water, try to get lots of sleep and eat properly so that you can concentrate effectively.
Be organised - Often exams are scattered around in different halls and so it’s important to know exactly where each one is being held because running across campus with five minutes to spare won’t do much for your nerves. Even though you feel like you won’t have anything to write – you will. So make sure you have enough pens and pencils and any other equipment you might need.
Follow instructions - When you’re in the exam hall all your revision will prove pointless if you don’t do what the examiners want. Read the instructions on the exam paper, make sure you read the questions carefully and try to answer as many as possible, starting with those that carry the most marks.
Clock watch - Contrary to how it may feel the exam won’t last forever so don’t spend too much time on one question. If you don’t know the answer move on and answer something that you do. If you do run out of time jotting down any remaining answers in brief sentences will get you some marks. Write what you would do and how you would do it stating your main argument or any mathematical working out or science formulas.
Seek advice - If you’re struggling ask your lecturers for your help. You can also seek advice from university support services if you feel unable to cope with the exam environment. Most universities offer study skills services providing sessions on exam techniques and stress management.
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