Exams are an understandably stressful time for students. You might be feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and unsure where to begin your revision. The following tips should help you prepare for your exams, based on my experience as a former student and current tutor at Monash University:
Exam revision tip 1) First and foremost – take care of yourself.
Ensure you are eating healthy food and regular meals, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep. Sleeping regular hours will help you retain the information that you learn, and assist you in recalling information that you learnt months ago. Most importantly, sleep well before your exam. It can be tempting to pull an all-nighter, but taking an exam while sleep deprived will only exacerbate issues you have in recall, make you give up on difficult questions more easily, and frustrate you.
Exam revision tip 2) Think about what works best for you.
There is no need for you to revise in the same way as others – some people prefer visual learning, others kinetic, and others auditory. Try to work out your learning style, and adjust your revision strategy accordingly.
Exam revision tip 3) Make use of memory tricks.
Your brain, and its ability to remember a wealth of information, should not be underestimated. The method of loci uses environments that are familiar to you to help you recall information. Mnemonics are another useful strategy – I still have mnemonics that I learnt in my first year of university swimming around in my head!
Exam revision tip 4) Prioritise.
You likely have mountains of information that you want to cram into your brain. Sometimes, this is just not feasible. Go back over your class material or lecture notes, and make note of key concepts, theories, or details that have been emphasised. Even just going back over this material is revision in itself!
Exam revision tip 5) Use all available material.
Your textbooks or other reading materials are a useful resource, so don’t abandon these completely in favour of class or lecture notes. Use your reading material to supplement your understanding – it will give you a fuller and more comprehensive view of what might come up on the exam.
Exam revision tip 6) Revise with friends or in a peer group.
Often, the best way to revise is to teach others. Get a group of friends together, and split up the material. Summarise it, and present it to each other. Having to explain material to others will force you to fill in the gaps in your own knowledge and ensure that you have a strong grasp on the topic you are talking about. If you are not confident doing this, then practice on your family pet!
Exam revision tip 7) Complete practice exams and questions.
This is the least fun tip, but an important one. Many students have exam anxiety, and no matter how much they revise, still struggle when a paper is placed in front of them. Others may know the material in and out, but when it comes to completing an exam within a time limit, end up struggling. Completing practice exams and questions will help you prepare for the real thing. Make sure you time and grade yourself!
Exam revision tip 8) Ask for help.
It’s okay not to remember details of something you were taught 6 months ago, or to need clarification in a certain area. Your teachers, tutors, and lecturers are there to help you. Shoot us an email or come chat to us in person – it’s almost guaranteed that if you are unclear on something, others are as well.
Exam revision tip 9) Plan your exam.
Are you going to start with the easy questions? How much time do you have overall, and how much time per question? How long will you leave yourself to review your exam once you have finished? Creating a basic plan, especially for time, will ease some of that test anxiety. Keep an eye on the clock and leave yourself some space for checking things over.
Exam revision tip 10) Finally – once you are in the exam hall – don’t panic!
Remember that you have done everything that you can to prepare yourself for this exam. It’s okay if you don’t know a couple of answers, or if you have blanked on something. Do the best you can, and you will walk out feeling confident.
Best of luck with revision and exams!