Ten Tips To Prepare For Exams
Exams are never fun, but an integral part of each university degree that you just can’t avoid.
Remember that exams are the final step before the nice long summer break and in only a few weeks you’ll be done, enjoying heading home for the well deserved break.
Before you get there though, here are some helpful tips we’ve compiled to get you through these challenging weeks:
Suss out all the details on the exam
Know what you’re up against – find out everything you can about the exam. The more informed you are, the more prepared you will feel. Things to think about:
- Is the exam a hurdle requirement & do you need a specific minimum mark to pass?
- How much is the exam worth?
- What type of exam is it – including multiple choice, essay, open book?
- How much time will you have to complete the exam?
- What things are you allowed take in with you? (calculators, notes and other items)
Create your plan of attack with a study timetable
Once you know what you need to do, develop a study timetable outlining everything you need to do (including any catch up on weekly readings and tasks you’re behind on – naughty!). Be realistic based on the time you can dedicate and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Having a plan will also help with controlling your procrastination levels and keep you away from Facebook stalking your ex from 5 years ago and endless cute dog videos you love watching.
When establishing a timetable, make sure you consider:
- What time do you study best – are you more of a morning or night studier?
- What is a realistic amount of time can you dedicate to study?
- Can you study at the same time each day for routine? Creating a consistent routine will set you up for success.
- Change up your subjects – instead of focusing on one subject for a full day change up your variety of subjects after a break
- Assess which subjects are most difficult and plan to work on them when you can work at your best
- Include the vital things including sleep, exercise, socialising, breaks, chores and meals
- Assess and adjust after each study session – you will not always stick to the plan 100% of the time, and that’s perfectly fine!
Break each question and core learning objective down
When you’ve begun studying, have a look over your core learning objectives and any questions in preparation of your exams and break them down. This will ensure you fully grasp what you’re being asked and can give hints on what further study is required.
Look for key parts of the question and objective giving you clues on how to answer it.
Look after yourself. Eat, sleep, move, repeat
Taking care of your health and wellbeing will help you study at your best – it’s easy to get caught up with the stress of exams and forget the basics like good nutrition and a good amount of sleep.
Things you should make a priority include:
- Get enough sleep – 7-9 hours is a good amount of time to aim towards. Try to relax and unwind before going to bed, put those screens away at least an hour before bed. If you struggle to get to sleep, try things like meditation or other relaxation techniques.
- Stay hydrated – try and remember to drink enough water throughout the day, limiting your caffeine intake to a minimum. You’ll be surprised how sometimes you can feel tired because you aren’t hydrated!
- Eat well – stick to your normal routine regarding meals and stick to healthy snacks in between meals.
- Take a break – when you find yourself struggling, take a break – go for a walk, get some fresh air or do something to take your mind off studying
- Exercise – try to get active and aim for 30 minutes of physical activity. This can include a walk between study sessions or a workout to start your day.
Kill distractions and try not to procrastinate
Other than getting your degree in whatever it is you’re studying, we know every student also earns a qualification in procrastination! You deserve it.
Remember though, procrastination doesn’t get results – to study effectively you need to avoid distractions as much as possible. Once you fall off the study bandwagon, call it and take a break instead. Some things you can do to help with procrastination include:
- Break down each of your tasks – small chunks split over a few study sessions with breaks in between are more effective than one long study session.
- Set timers – commit to a specific amount of time you’ll focus on study (for example 1 hour) and then reward yourself with a 15-20 minute break.
- Be realistic – if you really are struggling maybe you need to take a break to refocus. Try going for a walk and when you’re ready, get back into it.
Ask for help
If you’re struggling to understand the content, know you’re probably not the only one. It’s vital you reach out and ask for help if you need it – you’ll be surprised what you can learn by asking questions. People you might want to talk to include:
- Tutors and lecturers.
- Friends and other classmates.
- People who have completed the subject in the past.
- Jump online – most courses have discussion boards where you can post questions and other students and staff can reply with their thoughts.
Take care of your wellbeing
Making the most of taking a good break from study will help you be more productive when you do study. Take regular and rejuvenating breaks and do something different.
Exams can be full on so remember to have fun, unwind and be social in moderation too. Studying hard means having reasonable goals and rewarding yourself when you achieve them. Make sure you reward yourself after each study session.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, chat with someone you trust or with your university’s wellbeing and health team and lock in an appointment with their counselling team – most institutions offer this service for free and you’ll be amazed how it will help.
Know where to go on the day
Make sure you know where and when the exam is happening. You don’t want to miss your exam!
- Check your exam timetable for start time and where it will be held.
- Have a look at time of exam and see if it’s in peak travel time – plan around this!
- Make a list of everything you need to take with you and pack the night before.
- Do some study at the same time as your exams to get into the normal routine and time.
Staying up all night to cram will only stress you out. It’s better to just review what you’ve already studied and get an early night. That way you’ll be as refreshed as you can be on the day of your exam. Instead of cramming, take the time to prepare all your things and do something you enjoy and try to relax.
Do what works best for you
Remember each person works differently when studying – these tips are just a guide, and you should see what works best for you. There might be other things that work even better for you.
Put into action what works best for you, and you’ll do the best you can!
We wish you the best of luck with your exams.