…and I mean exams, not Christmas 😦
As much as I’d love to just kick back and relax through the Christmas holidays, I have two exams in January.
I’ll be honest – I am one of those people who does not like exams at all. Give me presentations, essays or seminar discussions any day, but I truly loathe exams.
Why? 1. I love to talk. 2. I am a complete fidget.
Give me a topic and I could talk for days. Ask me to write it down and my train of thought turns to mush. I also don’t like having to sit still in one place for an extended period of time.
Last year I met with my course manager to get her advice and support on revision and exam techniques. As a result, in the two exams I sat, I got 75% and 82%, both graded as firsts. Obviously, I was more than happy with those!
Here are some of my tips:
- Attend revision sessions and lectures and ask your lecturer to clarify anything you’re not sure on – whether it’s the format of the exam or which topics you need to revise
- Get your lecture notes and other materials in order – then you can sift out anything you don’t need and start to highlight areas where you think you need to do further research or reading on
- Find and research good examples to use to support your theory – the more you read, the more you’ll retain
- Draw pictures, charts, mind-maps, lists or whatever you need to link key themes and subjects with theory, references and real-life examples – colour-code related points so that when you’re trying to recall the info in the exam you can focus on the colour and know that there are x amount of points to add to your answer for that topic
- Form a study group – everyone will have their ‘best’ topics and apparently Einstein once said that “If you can’t explain something to a six year old, then you don’t understand it”, so check your true understanding by teaching your coursemates your best topic and get taught by them about theirs
- In the exam, use the 10-minute planning time to read through the questions and start thinking through your colour-coded notes and study group sessions (who did you talk to about the topic in the question, how many points were coloured blue, etc.)
- During the planning time, make notes on your question paper – use bulletpoints to give you a basic structure and to order to your answer (you’ll likely still need an introduction and a conclusion as well as your main discussion points) – I find that by writing a list, it’s then easier to notice if you’ve missed something key from your revision
Remember, preparation really is key. If you don’t know something when you get to the exam, then there’s nothing you can do about it at that point. Don’t stress out, but focus on what you do know and believe that you can write a great answer.
Be focused and work hard but, above all else, make sure you still take some time off to relax and enjoy the Christmas holidays!