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Exam techniques

January is always a busy month at the university due to exams. Having sat many exams during my undergraduate and master's study, I have found what revision techniques can be most beneficial.

I thought that this blog would be most useful by explaining some of these exam techniques:

  1. Always make sure that you study in a place that you associate with work. For some people, noise may help them revise better but for others noise can be a distraction. I have found that sitting in busy places can often distract me and therefore I am unable to concentrate fully. I have found that I study best in quiet places in my house where I have a desk and chair.
  2. Make a plan – once you know what you will be revising, you can make a revision timetable. Make this detailed, including any notes or exam papers that you need to go over. Whilst you might think that making a plan Is time consuming, in the long run it will save you time as you wont be deciding what to revise on a day to day basis.
  3. Looking at past exam questions is always a good start to revision. I believe that looking at past exam questions helps guide you towards the questions that you may be asked. Looking at a variety of questions from different years can give you an overall insight into what you may be asked.
  4. Start by looking at lecture power points. This will give you a basic overall of topics and a basis to the exam revision. Then start to further this by looking at core and suggested readings related to the topic. I always find it is best to highlight parts of the reading that are of importance or interest. I then like to create mind maps that are summarised notes of what I have highlighted. For revision, it is important not to cram in loads of information on to paper as this will be harder to read.
  5. Take lots of breaks! For me, I like to work for two hours and then have a 30 minute break. I have found that if I study for longer than this then I start to lose concentration. In this 30 minute break, it is important for you to do something else other than work.
  6. Get somebody to test you on what you have learnt. Getting somebody to ask you questions regarding the topic you have learnt can be a very useful way of remembering information. If you have nobody who is able to test you, you can test yourself. This can be by writing down information you have learnt. Once done you can go back and see what you have included and what you have not remembered to include.
  7. Try and get a good night's sleep before an exam. Too many people, including myself have revised till really late and had to wake up at 7am for an exam. In the end, you wake up tired and are unable to give an exam your full attention. I have learnt that during revision periods, it is better to get up earlier and go to bed earlier. By doing this, you wake up refreshed and able to perform better in the exam.
  8. Finally, stay calm and positive. If you have a bad day, try not to let this affect how you revise the next day. Also try and stay calm during an exam. Give yourself 5 minutes to plan the structure of your essay. This will help you achieve a more coherent essay.
  9. Finally, there is no perfect formula for exam success and you may find that different techniques suit you better. The key is to work out how you revise most successfully and stick to that as best you can. Ultimately, when it comes to revision, you get out of it what you put in!