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Adjusting to study in the UK

I will be completely honest and say that I struggled with exams this semester. Mostly because our exams were essay exams, a type of exam I have never taken before.

In the United States, our final exams were mostly made up of multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions. I knew the basics of how many questions I had to answer and what the general topics of the questions would be, but I wasn’t exactly sure how best to study for the exam, what to expect of the testing environment, or exactly what was expected of me. Luckily, we had access to the last 3 years of exam questions, and after asking some of my classmates how they usually studied for exams like this, I made a plan.

Since I knew I would have to answer two questions for both of my exams, I decided to focus on the topics that I knew without a doubt would be asked about in the exams. From past exams and what the lecturers had told us, it was pretty easy to figure out what would be asked about. Once I had decided what topics to focus on, I looked back at my lecture and reading notes on those topics, started researching them further and I compiled a list of the information I was finding with citations. Once I had my list completed, I studied it over and over and wrote a practice essay, which I also went over.

But come the first exam, my anxiety was through the roof. I hadn’t slept well the night before, due to the anxiety I felt about the exam and all I could think about was how likely it was that I would forget 80% of everything I’d been revising. All that worry led to me not being fully focused and I walked out of the exam not feeling very confident. But I knew how the next exam would be and at the end of the second exam, I felt much more confident.

To celebrate getting through exams and the end of the first semester, a few of us in the programme went out to dinner. Now with the start of the second semester and the dissertation process really starting, I’m realising how quickly this year is going to go by.