Ask Anna: How Should I Prepare for my Exams?

By StudyLink

For many of you exam season is fast approaching, or may even have begun. Whether you are at sitting A-Levels or thinking about your WACE exams, or preparing for examinations for your undergraduate degree, here are some great ways to help yourself prepare and achieve the best results possible.
Be physically prepared
One of my favourite bits of advice for somebody preparing for their exams is to look after your body. By doing so you can help ensure that when you sit down for your exam, you are feeling fresh and full of energy. This will help you to focus and think clearly through your answers.
Drink plenty of fluids in the build up to your exams, water preferably, as drinks laden with caffeine or sugar may adversely affect your ability to concentrate. Make sure you get plenty of natural sleep in the build up. If you find this difficult, try some light exercise the day before, as this can help the body to relax and fall to sleep in the evening.
Practise making your point
Many exams at undergraduate level involve answers in the form of essays. Although it is tempting whilst writing your essay to ramble and write down anything you can remember that is vaguely related to the exam question, it is much more prudent to take the time to consider the structure of your essay.
Consider an introduction paragraph or two where you can lay out the scope of your essay. Follow this with a series of points (backed up with the citations that you are able to remember!), but keep these points specific and relevant to the question. Follow this with a concise conclusion to summarise your argument and your essay will be a well formed and easy to read piece of writing.
Get the basics right
It goes without saying that you don’t want to be stressed about the little things in the build up to your exams. Some of you may study at large campuses but even if you don’t, please make sure to check your exam schedules and that you are 100% sure of the location and time of your exams.
Arrive in plenty of time (your tutors will probably have warned you of this already!) and with all the equipment that you are allowed to bring. Treat yourself to a couple of new pens and pencils if you can, because now is not the time to rely upon a chewed-up pen that is running out of ink.
Revise the correct material
Your tutors may be allowed to give you (or may have let slip) some rough information about the topics covered in the exam. They may even be responsible for setting the exams at undergraduate level. Use this to your advantage by revising the topics that are likely to appear in your exam, even if they are not your favourite topics. By all means get hold of previous exam papers as they are a good indicator of the type of question you are likely to be asked, but don’t assume that you will face the same questions.
If your school, college or university is running revision sessions then make sure that you attend them. Even if you are well prepared going into your exam, there still maybe something you haven’t considered and there may well be some really useful last minute tips available.
When it comes to the night before your exam, there is no harm in doing some last minute recaps, but don’t try and force too much information into your head at this stage (if you can avoid it). By far the better approach (and I am sure this will be reinforced by your tutors) is to attend all your lectures and seminars during term time and really concentrate on your studies.
Be kind to yourself
And finally, another favourite piece of advice of mine is to be kind to yourself. When you are sitting your exam, simply try to do the best that you can and be happy with that. Give yourself time to read and understand each question fully and be realistic with what you can achieve in the time available.
Upon completing your exam, try to avoid the temptation that comes with hindsight to pick apart your answers or to beat yourself up if you forgot to include something. Congratulate yourself for completing another exam, give yourself some time to relax and then turn your attention to the next task.
Good luck with your exams and please do add any exam tips you may have in the comments below!

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