Preparing for exams / study skills

Your exam preparation should start in the early weeks of semester. Consistent study throughout the semester leads to exam success. Get organised early and prepare a study timetable for the whole semester; you can also prepare timetables for each week.

You have probably already been successful in passing exams. Keep the exam preparation strategies that work for you but review your study habits to eliminate any poor study habits that may be hindering your success.

What do I need to study for the exam?

Use your unit and course learning outcomes to guide your study. Identify what you are expected to be able to do or understand by the end of the unit and course. Read the weekly schedule for your unit to identify topics for study. These topics can act as headings under which you can 'chunk'  information. Your lecturers want you to pass your exams so the lecture material and unit guide should contain clues about what is likely to be on the exam.

Studying for exams involves more than memorising facts. You will be asked to apply theories and practices in the exam and to demonstrate skills.

Are there any tips for answering exam questions?

Before you start answering the exam questions, it is important for you to calculate how many marks are allocated to each section and each question in the exam paper, and how long to dedicate to each question. You can use the 10 minutes reading time at the start of the exam to do this. Ensure you leave  some time at the end of the exam to review your answers. Never leave a question blank.

The best tip for successfully answering a multiple choice question (MCQ) is to gain a thorough understanding of the subject. You may instinctively recognise the best answer of the possible responses to the MCQ. The answer is there somewhere so attempt  the question even if you are not sure. You may be able to eliminate the responses you know are incorrect. Understanding the structure of the MCQ can also help.

It is important to read short and long answer questions carefully - but quickly - and note what you are being asked to do. Break the question into directive words and content words. Here is an example of a short answer question showing directive works and content. For a long answer question, plan your answer by noting down everything you can think of relating to the question - this is 'brainstorming'. Order these notes in the way they will appear in your answer, deleting what is not important. Write quickly from your  plan, aiming for coherence, and edit if you have time. Remember, whoever is marking the exam is looking for an opportunity to give you marks.

Reflect on your exam preparation and performance after the exam. Build on your strengths and learn from mistakes.

Practice questions

Prepare for exams by practising exam questions under exam conditions. Practice exam papers and sample questions may be available on your unit Moodle site. If you cannot find practice exam papers for your unit, ask your lecturer or tutor if they plan to release any. You can also create your own practice exam questions, or complete questions and weekly activities given in lectures and tutorials as exam preparation.

What can I do about exam nerves?

Exams are important and it is natural to feel stressed during exam time. If stress is impeding your study or exam performance, consider ways to reduce stress levels. Form an exam study group to support and motivate each other.

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