Surviving Your First Exam

Posted on May 26, 2016 by Sarah Price


If you’re new to study this semester, it can be daunting approaching your very first end of semester exam. For many they are an inevitable part of your studies. But they needn’t be as terrifying as they seem. With a little bit of preparation you can really kick some serious exam butt. Here’s some tips to help get you through.

1. Study only what is relevant

No exam will cover absolutely everything in the unit. Try and gather as much information as you can on what will be in the exam. Ask for help from your lecturer, go over past exam papers, and if possible gain information on the structure of the exam (e.g essays, short answer questions, multiple choice etc.).  And while you won’t be able to predict everything in the exam you will be able to get a sense of what might be the key areas to really focus on, and for what areas, a broader understanding will suffice.

2. Take breaks in between studying

Don’t try and learn everything all at once. Take regular breaks, go outside and get some fresh air. It will help you refocus, retain more knowledge and overall make you more productive.

 3.Give yourself enough time for studying

Don’t leave things to the last minute and just try and cram everything in. This may be a challenge if you have multiple exams and end of semester assignments, but try and start your study period early enough to allow you to absorb information properly. Even if it’s a little bit at a time – start early!

4. Be prepared

This might seem obvious, but make sure are prepared for the actual exam. Find out what you are allowed to take or not take into the exam. Make sure you know exactly where your exam room is and if you need to travel there, allow yourself plenty of time to get there. Prepare everything you might need to take the night before, so you don’t have to rush the next day.

5. Eat right

During study week, make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet. Late night sugar binges will work against your brain not for it, despite the initial surge of energy they will give you. Feed you, feed your brain.

6. Work on your exam technique

Come up with a plan for attacking the exam before you sit in the exam room. Work out what type of questions you should tackle first, how best to use any reading time allocated, and how to divide up the allocated time.

7. Get Plenty of Sleep

It may seem counterintuitive, but trying to cram late into the night before your exam will work against you. When you are tired, you are less likely to retain information and recall it in the heat of the exam moment. Sleep, rest and recharge before the exam.

8. Plan

Make a study plan for revision. Know what you need to learn and allocate time to it in blocks. Also allow time to fit in other commitments be they social, work, family or even other assignments.

 Ultimately exams are an opportunity to reflect and what assess what you’ve learnt and a reminder that you’ve achieved a milestone by completing the semester. Plan, prepare and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pass with flying colours!

Posted in Exams, Study Preparation