9 Tips for Acing Your Uni Exams
Students all around the country are gearing up to their summer examinations. Summer exam timetables can be brutal. You may be lucky enough to have your exams spaced out with plenty of time to revise and prepare for the next assessment. Alternatively, you may be one of the unlucky ones where the exams are stacked back to back and your only friends are clear plastic bags with stationery, last minute notes and coffee.
In the past, students have been afforded the luxury of re-sits. If they did not attain the grade that they needed in their initial exam they could always take the exam again later on in the year. In recent years Universities have clamped down on this and capped all re-sits at 40%. Therefore it is more important than ever to nail exams on the first go round.
Whatever fate the exam gods have for you, follow this simple survival kit to make it to the other side of exam hell.
Get a good night’s sleep
This might sound easy but it is integral for exam success to get a good nights’ sleep. Do not feel tempted stay up late to get some last minute cramming in. The advantages of getting a good nights’ sleep are well documented.
Not only does it allow all your brain adequate rest that it requires after all the revision but it also increases cognitive functioning, which is vital for short term memory in exams. Your mind might be racing with the stress of your impending exam but you must try and get a healthy nights’ sleep and going to bed early is the best way to ensure this.
Feed your brain with breakfast
Whether you got your full eight hours sleep or you were tossing and turning all night, the importance of a good breakfast on exam day is paramount. It is completely understandable that you may feel that your stomach cannot handle a big breakfast but the correlation between a hearty breakfast and the ability to handle stress is well established.
On the morning of an exam, the brain as a lot to cope with and eating the right foods can assist the human brain with the day. It is important to feed the brain with nutritious food, which means ignoring all your cravings for junk food – satisfy these after the exam.
Bring a drink with you in the exam
Just before entering the exam hall you will see hundreds of students checking that they have everything they need, pen, pencil, calculator, ruler and many other pieces of stationery that they can nervously cling to. Along with your clear plastic bag holding the contents of WHSmith, remember to bring a bottle of water.
Examinations can be long, some university exams can go on for longer than three hours. The body needs to be hydrated when tackling such a seemingly endless test . If you let your brain become dehydrated the enzymatic activity in your body slows down which can result in tiredness and fatigue, which is like getting a flat tyre when sitting an exam.
Read every question twice
Stress can do some strange things to the human body. With the adrenaline pumping as you first open your exam paper words can fly all over the page and it can be difficult to focus on each question.
One of the major pitfalls for students is reading the question incorrectly and writing their answer accordingly, thus answering the wrong question. To avoid this, read every question twice. This advice sounds like over the top, but spending the extra time re-reading a question can identify exactly what it is asking and help formulate ideas on how to answer it.
Once you have identified what the question is asking, it is tempting to jump straight in and get to writing your answer. The silence of exam conditions, the nerves and the realisation that the person next to you has already written a page can all work you into writing as fast as you can. Do not fall into this trap.
Plan your answer before you start. Planning your answer will allow you to collect your thoughts, write down all you can remember about the topic and provide a structure for your answer. It will also allow the person marking your work to find parts of your answer you may not have included in your essay, which can lead to more marks.
The amount of time that you have to sit your exam will vary from subject to subject, some exams will require three hours whilst others you may only have sixty minutes to complete. Whatever the time limit you must manage your time effectively.
There is nothing worse than finishing exam and knowing you could have answered a question more thoroughly if you had managed your time correctly. When reading the questions, take note of the amount of marks for each question this should give you a clue as to how much time to spend on it.
There is no point spending half your time on a question that is only a quarter of your overall marks. Put yourself in a position to succeed, allow a set amount of time for each question. If you go over the time move on to the next one, there may be time at the end to return to your unfinished answer.
Grab those easy marks first
A tip you might find helpful it to remember to find the short questions for easy marks. Exams always provide some questions to warm the brain up and get you in the rhythm of the exam.
Find these and answer them straight away, as they allow you to obtain quick points and readies your brain for the harder questions.
Running out of time
The process of marking exams is a laborious one, examiners have a lot of exams to mark and the best thing is to make it easy for them to give you marks .
The quickest and most efficient way to give the examiner reasons to raise your grade is to bullet point your work. If you feel that time is not on your side, provide a skeleton of your answer in bullet points. This allows the examiner to understand what you would have said if you had more time.
Sometimes a small list of bullet points can be the difference between a Two-One and a First.
That’s it. You’ve finished. You’ve answered all the questions with a few minutes to spare, time to put your feet up and wait for the sweet release of the announcement that the examination has finished. Wrong ! One of the biggest mistake that students make in exams is that they forget to proofread. Proofreading is a quick way to tally up marks and in some instances it can be a single per cent that is the difference between a fail or a pass.
One of the biggest mistake that students make in exams is that they forget to proofread. Proofreading is a quick way to tally up marks and in some instances it can be a single per cent that is the difference between a fail or a pass. Re-reading your work can help you identify spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and bad sentence structure. Proof read your work and make the necessary to ensure the person marking your work has no excuses but to give you the grade you deserve.
Proof read your work and make the necessary to ensure the person marking your work has no excuses but to give you the grade you deserve.
Luke Bennett is a Law Graduate from the University of the West of England. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.
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