Prime Exam Preparation Tips from Academic Experts
It’s unlikely that anyone will ever look back at an exam period with fond memories.
Chances are, most people remember exams as a blur of long nights spent cramming, minimal sleep and extreme stress.
But alas, it doesn’t need to be this way!
No, I’m sorry, you can’t skip exams:
but you can give yourself the best chance for success by rewriting, memorising and reciting our five top tips for exam preparation.
Follow these five rules and you'll be totally primed for exam time!
1. Bring the right mindset on game day. Build confidence early.
In the words of Michael Jordan:
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.”
Whether you feel you’re going to pass with flying colours or whether you think you’re in for an uphill battle, you must put in 100% at all times.
The mindset with which you approach your exam preparation and your exam can have a dramatic influence over your results.
Mentally preparing for an exam is just as important as the study and academic preparation you put in beforehand.
Pre-exam, try not to be over confident or overly pessimistic, always remain grounded and realistic and try to avoid coffee and energy drinks; calm focus is best.
Tip: When you enter your exam, try to answer a few questions that you’re confident with early. This will help to build your assurance, eradicate any pre-exam nerves and set you up for a stellar performance.
2. Keep your eye on the prize - in this case, it’s the time
Sitting an exam is like running a marathon, it’s long, it’s exhausting, it can be absolutely overwhelming and in order to beat your personal best, you have to be aware of the time.
Before you begin the exam, know how many questions you need to complete and how much time there is provided for each.
Try to spend only the time you’ve provided yourself to answer each question, even if you feel you could address the question for much longer.
Making sure you complete each question will provide you with more marks than if you answer only half the questions thoroughly.
Always keep an eye on the clock.
3. If you’re stumped on a question, move on.
If you get stumped on a tough question early, don’t let it ruin your time management strategy or your confidence.
Move on to the next question and come back to it later.
The longer you spend stumped on one tough question may lead you to miss out on 2-3 easy marks later in the exam.
Sticking with our marathon analogy, you might hit a wall, but you must keep moving forward!
4. Read each question slowly and then re-read it again (even slower) before answering
Read. Each. Question. Slowly.
This is so important and easily the single most underrated strategy in sitting an exam.
It’s common practice for exams to deliberately word questions that could catch you out if you’re not paying attention to the detail of the language or the diagram.
If you’re not careful, easy marks can slip through your fingers.
Always, ALWAYS, read slowly and make sure you understand exactly what you’re being asking before you answer.
5. Don’t be complacent.
Overlooking a multiple choice question and marking the wrong box, misreading the time of your exam and rocking up an hour late, or forgetting your textbook for an open book exam are all common and easily avoidable mistakes.
At any stage of the exam, pre, during and post:
try not to become complacent, give the exam your full respect.
While you may find that some questions are actually easy, if you become too relaxed answering the “easy” questions, it could ruin your exam technique moving forward.
Stay alert, come prepared and take each question on its merit. Don’t be the next exam horror story!