Exam Tips & Advice

Both my brother and my sister-in-law are studying for exams in school, and with myself and Andy have just completed our degrees in Law LLB and Geography BSc, I thought it would be useful to anyone studying for any type of exam to know some tips and tricks.

Identify your study method

Not everyone can write out word for word what they have learned. Not everyone can just read a book and intake all of that information. Not everyone can make a colourful mind map full of neon highlighter and squiggly lines. Do what is best for you. I found that mixing up reading, writing out and colourful mind maps helped me the most. Don't spend a whole day making mind maps if you won't be able to read them later or it won't really help. Don't read a book page to page if it won't help. Sit down and think about how you would prefer to revise.

Get up early

The earlier you get up (reasonable of course) the better. Most people are productive in the mornings which tends to reduce as the day goes on. Apart from this, you have more of the day. If you don't get up until midday you have lost 1/3 of your day which I can imagine will lead to added stress as time goes on. Little things like that can add up, and you want to do the best you can possibly do to get yourself the best grade.

Reduce distractions

Turn your phone notifications off for social media and games. You can check your phone in the breaks. If you have it next to you and your Instagram is going off every 5 minutes because someone has liked your photo is really won't help your revision nor your motivation. There's nothing wrong with having breaks, whether it be every hour for 5 minutes or every 4 hours for 1 hour. Just don't spend every other minute on your phone. Trust me, Youtube and Twitter were limited because I could spend a lifetime on them.

Narrow it down

Start off with a plan on what topics you're revising and what they include. Start revising all the information in your chosen method. As time goes on you can reduce this information into bullet points with sub bullet points. A few days before the exam reduce the information into the key points you need i.e. paragraph titles. You will be able to reel off information from the main points.

Teach somebody

Even if the person isn't studying what you're studying, or they are a parent or friend etc, "teaching" them is a really good method to get the information into your head without you trying to cram information in and get stressed about it. As long as they respond to you when you "teach" them (otherwise you're just talking at them) it should go in. The more you teach, the more you will learn. Mostly likely they will also know the information afterwards too, so teaching with people studying the same subject can help too.

Question, question, question

Asking somebody you know to ask you questions that you can answer will help identify what you know, and what you don't know. You can do this at any point during revision. I used to do it a few days before and the night before, just to make sure I was constantly answering the questions. I find this is another great way to revise since you can ask the person questioning you to pick topics at random so you aren't used to answering them in a set order, since an exam may not flow in the way you've been taught.

Practice

Not only is this to make sure you are reading the question properly (is it a problem question, an essay, a small answer or something else?) but to get into the habit of doing questions. The more you practice, the more you get to grips with how the exam works and your timing. Even if you answer in bullet points or abbreviations it still helps. Better yet, ask a teacher/tutor to mark a practice answer to identify where your faults are. The sooner you identify your weaknesses the sooner you can fix them.

Remind yourself of its importance

This will keep you motivated. My last exam was worth 100% of a 30 credit module out of 120 credits for the year. This means after my dissertation, it was my second biggest module of the year, so revising for my exam was vital as after that, nothing else counted towards my final degree classification. I made sure I worked hard to know the information and practice writing past paper questions out so I could do the best of my ability.


Best of luck to everyone studying for exams and handing in assignments!
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