Uni life can be complicated at first, so this site will help make it a little easier to navigate your first semester at Monash. The weeks listed here represent the twelve teaching weeks of semester. Just start scrolling to browse topics to see important deadlines to help you manage your studies each week.
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Weeks 1 - 3
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Preparing for exams
Make a revision timetable
Prepare a revision timetable as soon as possible. Consider:
- studying in short to medium-length blocks, so you stay focused and alert
- varying what you study on a single day, so you can maintain your interest
- allocating more time for the subjects you found more difficult and the exams that are worth more of your overall mark
- allowing time for relaxation and exercise.
Find out about the exam format and what it will cover
- Ask your lecturer. Many will talk about the exam in the final lectures or tutorials, so make sure you keep going to classes.
- Talk to students who've already done the unit.
Review your unit materials
- Go over your unit guide. This should give you an overview of all the topics covered in the unit, and the unit goals and objectives.
- Make a list of topics to review.
- Review your lecture notes, and the key reading, or notes based on them.
- Write notes on each topic as you go.
- Make flash cards if you have to remember information.
- Practice writing answers to exam questions.
- Organise your notes with tabs or index lists if you're allowed to take them into exams (some open book exams allow this).
You might also want to think about forming study groups to help you keep motivated and tackle more challenging units. You can ask each other review questions.
Look after yourself
Exams and the weeks leading up to them can be very stressful. So it's important to look after yourself. Make sure you try to:
- Avoid all-night study sessions, particularly if you have a hectic exam schedule.
- Eat well. Avoid junk food, and foods and drinks with high sugar or caffeine content.
- Try to get a little exercise every day. Walking is a great way to beat stress and improve your energy levels and concentration.
Prepare for exam day
- Know the time and place of your exam. Make sure you know how to get there, and where to park if you're driving.
- Allow plenty of time to get to your exam. Plan to arrive early, so you're not stressed by rushing to get there.
- Check what you need and are allowed to bring to each exam. Make sure you're familiar with the university's exam rules.
- Get everything ready the night before.
Use your reading time well
- Read the instructions. If you don't understand something, ask an exam supervisor
- Read over the whole exam paper
- Note the types of questions: multiple choice, short answer, essays
- Note the marks you could get for each question. Plan the time you'll spend on each question based on this
- Set your priorities. You might decide to:
- do the easy questions first to give you confidence for the rest of the exam
- answer the questions worth more marks early, in case you run out of time.
Manage time and going blank
Make sure you can see the clock in the exam room. Keep an eye on it as you work through your exam paper.
If you go blank:
- Stop and take some deep breaths. Stretch out your arms. Close your eyes and let your mind go blank. Just breathe for a few minutes until you feel more relaxed.
- Start writing on scrap paper. Write anything—the topic, related words. See if this helps you get started.
- If you're still having trouble, leave the question and move on. Go back to it later.
If a question seems too difficult, leave it and move to the next question. Come back to it later if you have time.
If you're about to run out of time and have questions unanswered, just answer in point form.
Understand the question
Read the question carefully. Underline the key words and phrases, paying particular attention to 'direction words' and 'limiting words'.
Direction word examples
These explanations are just a guide. Don't assume these are exactly the same meaning that your lecturer intends. The distinctions between them are a little blurry.
- Analyse - examine the issue in detail. What are the essential elements? How are they related? What the the strengths and weaknesses or advantages and disadvantages?
- Argue - present a case for or against a particular position.
- Compare - consider items or issues side by side. Point out their similarities, but also their differences if appropriate.
- Comment on - point out the important features of an issue. Be critical.
- Contrast - consider items or side by side. Point out their differences, but also their similarities if appropriate.
- Critically … - analyse in a questioning way. How does this work? Why is it like this?
- Define - discuss the meaning of the concept or idea. Refer to authoritative definitions.
- Describe - characterise, outline or detail the issue.
- Discuss - describe, explain, give examples, analyse.
- Evaluate - attempt to come to a judgement by discussing the issue. Refer to advantages and disadvantages or costs and benefits.
- Examine - critically discuss the issue.
- Explain - interpret, clarify and expand on the issue. Give reasons for different views or results. Try to analyse causes.
- Illustrate - use examples (and sometimes diagrams or figures) to explain or clarify an idea, issue or statement.
- Justify - give reasons to support a position or statement.
- Outline - present the essential features. Show the main and subordinate points, structure or classification of things.
- Review - examine an idea or issues critically. Analyse and comment on the important or controversial elements.
- State - present the main points in a clear sequence.
- Summarise - give the main points or facts in a condensed form.
Limiting word examples
- since WW2 (or since some other time)
- in Australia (or in some other location or context).
Plan before you write
Depending on the length of the exam and the marks allocated to the question, do a little planning on scrap paper before you write.
- Write down any mnemonics or memory anchors to help you with the question
- Note key points you need to cover
Think about what the question is asking you to do. Think about it in terms of the objectives of your unit and your understanding of what your lecturer was trying to achieve.
Focus on answering the question directly. Avoid padding with irrelevant information.
Review your answers
Try to leave enough time to review your answers.
For short answer and essay questions:
- Make sure each point you make is clear
- Check that your ideas are in proper sequence
- Is your writing is legible?
Check that you've answered all the questions.
If you have a disability or medical condition you may be able to make special arrangements for your exams.
You might be allowed:
- extra time for writing or to take rest breaks
- alternative exam paper formats such as large print, Braille or audio
- specialised equipment or furniture
- a scribe, reader, or AUSLAN interpreter
- to sit your exam at a different location or time.
- register with Disability Support Services as early as possible, so appropriate arrangements can be made
- provide signed documentation (from your doctor or other health professional) detailing your condition and how it impacts your study.
You may also be eligible for special consideration.
In exceptional circumstances beyond your control (for instance, if you are very unwell or severely affected by hardship, trauma or grief), you may be eligible for special consideration.
If you're unable to:
- sit an exam, you may be allowed to sit a deferred exam
- complete an assignment, you may be given extra time to do so.
Special consideration is not:
- an adjustment to your marks
- automatically guaranteed
- available if you have already handed in your final assignment or sat your exam. You must apply before you complete your assessment.
You can apply for special consideration:
- for an assignment (up to two working days after it was due; but if you can, ask your faculty for an extension first)
- before your exam (up to five working days before)
- if something exceptional happens on the day of your exam (up to two days after your last exam)
- if you become ill during the exam (speak to the exam supervisor no later than 30 minutes before the end of the exam).
You'll need to fill in a form and provide documentary evidence of your situation.