How To Prepare For Exams This Semester
Whether you’re a first year or in your final semester, nothing brings on the feeling of dread quite like exam block. While studying for exams is undeniably exhausting, there are strategies you can use to manage your time more efficiently and achieve higher grades.
The Proof is in the planning
The best way to work smarter, and not harder, is to plan as much as possible. Work backwards from your exam timetable to figure out how many days you have to revise (or learn the content for the first time!). Once you know how long you have, you can start to allocate your revision between them, making sure to factor in the difficulty of each subject.
When creating a study plan, make sure to be reasonable with your expectations. While it might seem like a good idea to schedule twelve weeks worth of lectures into one caffeine-fuelled day, try to avoid this and spread out your studying as much as possible.
Another piece of advice to keep in mind is that you should build your study timetable to suit you; meaning that if you’re not a morning riser, don’t create a plan in which you need to be in the library by 8am. Take short, frequent breaks as regularly as you need to in order to remain sane.
Okay so you know how to create a study plan, but what should you put in it? There are numerous ways that you can prepare for an exam, but some strategies are much better than others.
The most important way to revise for a final is to do as many practice papers. The way you are taught in lectures and tutorials, while a necessary part of the learning process, does not provide the content in the same format as the final exam. It’s all good to recognise formulas and theories when on a lecture slide, but you need to know how to apply them in the specific context of the exam if you want to do well.
Practice papers give you another advantage of being able to practice timing. Once you get good at answering questions, the next step to prepare in as close to exam conditions as possible. You don’t want to walk into an exam feeling confident in your ability, and then realising the time is up and you’re only half way through.
You can access practice papers from the university library online here. However, note that these exams don’t typically provide solutions, so don’t hesitate to reach out to others to compare answers.
You are not alone
Exams can be intimidating but there’s no need to go through the whole revision process alone. For many people, isolating yourself from everyone else can lead to anxiety and low productivity, but its important to strike a balance between staying in contact with friends and getting completely derailed from your revision activities. Regardless, downtime is important and allows you to stay calm, as well as making the time in which you do study more productive as you are well rested.
Lecturers and tutors are also a great resource, and if you’re feeling completely lost in a subject, it might not be too late to schedule a consult before exams. If you do have a consult, make sure to go prepared with specific questions to get the most out of your session.
Exams are definitely important, but make sure to prioritise your mental health and wellbeing too. Good luck!