#studyboss: Prep for exams like a pro

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Exam season is heading this way. Not sure how to get started or what to study?

To help you turn study slog into study power, the Learning Skills team has put together their top tips for exam revision. By preparing strategically, you’ll feel like a studyboss on exam day.

Know your enemy: check the exam details
It might seem obvious, but check the little details (including the bus timetable). Staying on top of these details means less stress on the day.

Specifics to check include:

  • What topics/material will be covered?
  • What types of questions will you have to answer: essays, multiple choice, short answer questions, etc.?
  • How long will the exam be?
  • Are there specific rules and procedures you need to know?
  • Check and double check your exam timetable: venue, date and time.

Get ready to revise
Before you jump in to revision, you’ll need to find and strategise.

  • Find all your relevant materials: unit guide, notes, readings, handouts, PowerPoint slides, etc.
  • Organise your materials into topic areas.
  • Identify what you need to revise: are you revising facts or definitions? How to apply formulae to problems? How to discuss a point using key arguments, theories or framework?
  • Create a study plan/timetable: set short, focused study sessions, no longer than 50 minutes. Be realistic about how long you can study.
  • Spread out your revision: Doing all your revision in one go is not as effective as several shorter sessions across a few days.
  • Prioritise: allocate more time to the topics, subjects or skills you find more difficult.

Revise actively
Do you find revision boring? Don’t just read or re-read your notes! Try to make your learning more active.

  • Transform written information into visual information: draw diagrams, concept maps or mind-maps of your notes. Visuals help you group facts, information and ideas, and see the connections between them.
  • Make hand-written summaries. This technique helps with memory PLUS you get writing practice for the exam.
  • Make flash cards of key words and concepts.
  • Try past exams (under exam conditions). Sometimes exam questions are repurposed; you might get a question you’ve already practised answering!
  • Predict what questions you might be asked. This forces you to identify main points and key skills.
  • Meet up with others from your class for a group revision session. You could even grade each other’s practice answers.
  • Search for real-world applications or instances of the concepts you’re investigating.
  • Avoid multi-tasking (so hide your phone!): switching between tasks negatively impacts your higher cognitive activity.

Want more?
Check out the slides from the Exam Strategies workshop, co-taught by Learning Skills and Campus Wellbeing.
Find out more about active learning strategies, beating procrastination, and managing stress and anxiety.

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