UMASS Blog

Get exam ready!

My top tip for keeping on top of your university work is staying organised. It may seem like a trivial point, but it certainly pays off. Keeping a diary or writing lists soon become your best friend. In my diary, I make sure I put all my course deadlines and exam dates in, and then on a weekly basis I make a list of all the university work that needs completing and by which date. This helps me to break down the workload in to manageable chunks, but most importantly it makes sure I don’t miss a deadline because of lack of organisation.

Once you know what work needs completing and when, it’s time to work out what learning style works best for you. Depending on your course you may have 100% assessed work, 100% exams or a mix of both for your assessment. Studying Politics and Philosophy, my assessment is a mix of both essays and exams. Of course, preparing for both takes slightly different techniques. Studying for an essay tends to involve a lot of reading, allowing time to formulate your ideas and argument, and then getting on with writing it. They traditionally take a bit longer to do, however they are often due half way through the module, before you are swamped with exam dates at the end. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason – start working towards deadlines early! At the beginning of a module, there tends to be a bit more free time before the deadlines start rolling it. My advice is to use that time to get a head start on some of the readings because before you know it, you have deadlines in other modules taking up your time.

Exam revision takes a different technique than preparing for assessed work. A good first step is to make sure you know exactly what content is going to be covered in the exam. In order to do this, make use of lecture slides and notes, and don’t be afraid about asking any questions about the exam format to your lecturer or tutor. Once you know what to focus on, it’s time to develop confidence with your knowledge. Some people revise best by condensing notes into snappy revision cards, or by highlighting their notes, it’s simply about finding out what works best for you. I find it particularly useful to create mind maps for past exam questions with everything relevant that I can remember from my revision, this helps me to formulate and remember plans to replicate in the exam. Whether your exams are essay based, multiple choice or short questions, practising exam papers is great for revision as it gets you comfortable with the structure the exam will take.

I hope these top tips have been useful during your study periods, but always remember, if the workload gets too much – ask for help! There’s tons of support there for you from your Academic Advisor, Course Tutors, to Peer Support. Or if you prefer, chat to other people on your course – it can be a great way to calm nerves to know other people are having the same worries!

Good luck