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Allow an adequate revision period
I usually start prepping for exams a month out from the exam. I find it takes a couple of weeks for the information to really start to sink in and then by the time the exam rolls around the information is well memorised.
Allow time for information absorption
Allowing a substantial revision period before an exam also means you can take the odd day off and give the information time to sink in and consolidate.
Ask your lecturer for advice
Often lecturers will post information on Stream indicating which material and topics will be examinable. If you want to get started on exam preparation and that information has not yet been posted, be proactive and email your lecturer. They are always happy to offer advice.
Use previous exams
One of the best ways to prepare for exams is to access past exams for your course. Past exams give a good indication of how the exam is likely to be structured and the type of questions that are likely to be asked. You may find that some questions from past exams will be included in your exam. Work your way through a previous couple of exams, answering all the questions, and then work on memorising them. Past exam papers can be accessed here
Use lecture slides and bullet point formats to revise information
I find that information is easier to learn if it is presented in lecture slides or bullet point format as it gives the important key points without any other unnecessary words. I quite often type up my own bullet points and work on learning them.
Use memory techniques that work for you
Different techniques work for different people. Mind maps work well for many people, or some people use mnemonics or the method of loci. One that works for me is acronyms – if I have a list of words or key points to remember, I make up a ridiculous word from the first letters of each word in the list. Generally, the more ridiculous it is, the easier it will be to remember.
If I have a list of key points I need to remember, I will test myself each day by typing up as many of them as I can remember. This is also a way to test whether your memory techniques are working.
Whiteboard markers are your friend
Whiteboards are expensive but you can use whiteboard markers on windows, mirrors or even whiteware to leave study notes around the house or practice exam questions. Easy to clean up too.
Time Management Tip
Finding time to study and learn can be challenging. Establishing alternative routines to cope with everyday aspects of home and family can help. I’d like to provide an example:
Once a single-parenting father rang me at the end of his tether… Household chores were interfering with his study time. Specifically, doing the daily washing was cutting into the morning, his only time to study. We discussed his daily routine and it was decided he would do the washing in the evening and hang it out at night. Solved! Ok, it’s a summer solution, but small changes like this can and do help when extra hours are needed at exam time.
When taking notes from articles or texts, whether studying or researching for an assignment, always reference the source and page numbers in your notes. This way you can return to reading materials easily if needed. It is frustrating having to waste time searching for something previously read.
Keen to share their best (or worst!) tips for preparing for exams, the following is offered by students from the Extramural Community Facebook page in time for the summer school exams (January 2016), but valid for any time of year!
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Last updated on Tuesday 11 July 2017