Before the exam:
Focus on revision, not re-learning
- Listen for verbal clues offered in lectures and tutorials.
- Use the unit guide to create an overview of themes and topics.
- Prepare a pre-examination study timetable. Share your time between subjects, according to available marks.
- Identify problem areas and work on these first.
- Aim for understanding, not just memorising the material.
- Study actively – verbalise and visualize your revision. Pose questions before you start.
- Use concept maps/diagrams.
- Revise tutorial problems.
- Work in groups (be creative and challenging) and individually.
- Do past exams (under exam conditions, including handwriting) and discuss your answers with your lecturers and tutors (where possible), or use annotated answers.
- Take effective breaks (planned and limited) – regular exercise is good for this.
- Get enough sleep - synchronise your body clock with exam times.
- Prepare your exam resources - pens, calculators, ID card, etc.
- Check the day/time/place for your exam.
- Check your transport and, if necessary, parking arrangements.
- Know what you are permitted to take into the examination room, especially if the exam is open book.
During the exam:
During reading time
- Read the entire paper thoroughly.
- Check instructions (optional/compulsory; short/long answers, etc.).
- Allocate time proportionally to the value of each question.
- Decide on the order of your answers and organise plans (mentally if writing is not permitted).
After reading time
- Tick and order the questions you plan to answer.
- Re-read the questions and underline key words and phrases.
- Write notes/brief outline answers in your exam booklet.
When answering questions
- Make sure you answer ALL questions - one excellent answer will not compensate for a missed one (= zero).
- Keep to pre-set time limits for each question.
- Find the themes, relate these to the course objectives.
- Number answers clearly and accurately.
- Write on alternate lines and leave space at the end of each question.
- Work thoroughly but rapidly.
- Answer the hardest questions first, particularly if they are worth the most marks.
- Use other questions for clues.
- Notice where words/figures are emphasised.
- Identify formulae and equations presented in words.
- Examine the sequence of questions. Does that give you any clues?
- Read all the alternatives before choosing the answer.
- Make certain you are choosing the ‘best’ answer to the question.
- Be aware of the wording: “always”, “never”, “mostly”, “rarely”, double negatives (e.g. “not unknown”), the passive voice.
- Remember that wrong options are often based on common misconceptions.
- Make an educated guess for unknown answers unless you are penalised for wrong answers.
Essay/short answer questions
- Keep time allocations proportional to marks.
- Provide definitions where necessary.
- Identify key concepts.
- Give examples.
- Write clearly and simply.
Problem solving questions
- Write down any formulae needed first.
- Label all working stages clearly.
- Check computational accuracy.
- Show your working unless told not to.
Before the exam finishes
- Re-attempt questions you found too difficult at first.
- Make sure the examiner can read your answers and diagrams.
- Never leave the exam early.
- Use spare time to thoroughly check your answers.
- Make sure your name and ID number are marked clearly on all papers.
- If you are running out of time never omit a question completely. Give the examiner an outline of how you planned to answer a question/the remainder of the question.
After the exam:
- Review your exam paper if necessary and discuss it with your lecturer.
- Consider how you could improve your exam performance. Make it a learning experience!