Study Guide - Exam Preparation
The Purpose of exams
Types Of Exams
- The fortnightly test
This type of exam is carried out every two to three weeks as a means of preventing you from falling behind in the workload. The purpose of this type of exam is to enable you to consolidate and understand your work before you begin subsequent topics. This type of exam is usually undertaken within a half-hour time period. Normally marks awarded will not count to any unit or module result.
- The exam component
This type of exam actually counts towards the final mark that you receive in a particular , generally 5 to 10% of the final mark, in some cases more. An exam of this nature requires knowledge of much more material than that of the fortnightly test, and thus requires more preparation. An exam of this type may last between one or two hours, but it may last longer than this depending on the number and size of topics covered.
- The final exam
This type of exam is undertaken as a means of assessing your progress throughout a whole or even . The final exam must be taken seriously, and revision for such an exam will need preparation. Such an exam can last anything from two to five hours long, with break intervals in between in the case of some long exams.
The Purpose of Revision
Planning your revision
You should then think about locating all your notes together along with any books that you will need to look through. You should also gather past papers or questions from the last 2-3 years. This will allow you to see which topics in your syllabus come up frequently, and which come up rarely. You should now be able to identify topic areas in your syllabus that should be revised first. Prioritising your topics in this way will make much more clear and concise in your own mind because you will know what you have to do.
Next, you should make a . First decide at what times you work best and plan to work most during those times. For example some students find it easier to start early in the morning, on the other hand some students prefer to start in the afternoon. Whatever you decide, you must consider sleep by starting and finishing revision in away that allows for at least six hours sleep. In addition to considering sleep when making your revision timetable you should also consider your job if you have one, this needs to be thought out carefully otherwise you can become very tired as well as stressed out if you attempt to push yourself too far.
Split each day into small time periods of 40 minutes to 1 hour, with small breaks in between. The length of these periods depends on the individual's concentration span. If you think your concentration dwindles quickly, then you should look to have short revision sessions with short breaks in between so that overall you will still be doing the same amount as a person who has longer sessions (but can also afford to take longer breaks in between). For those who believe that their concentration does not suffer, make sure you take breaks in between however short. Using your syllabus you should be able to identify topics that are difficult and those which are not so difficult and allocate revision time accordingly.
- Note making
This is revision in its most common form. You must remember that just making notes is not enough to get you through the exam. But it does help in view of the fact that you will often find it easier to learn and understand something that is written in your own particular style, than something written in a more complex way in some book. To help you remember certain concepts or keywords you should use different coloured highlighters in your notes, as you can implicitly remember a concept or keyword by associating it with a particular colour.
- Revision Cards
This is practically the same as making notes, however, the size of a limits the amount of notes you can make. This means that any notes that you do make are in a condensed form and therefore much easier to remember.
Visual aids help like colours do, because they allow key points to be absorbed more easily. A typical example of such a visual aid is a . Many people use spider diagrams when they are generating ideas. However, they have been proved to be a very effective technique.
- Group based revision
This is another useful technique because you can push each other to do more work. Also you can test each other, which will highlight topics or areas of weakness. The other main advantage with group based revision being that if you encounter a problem, it is more likely to be solved as the problem can be tackled as a group. However, there is a danger that you will not do any work at all.
Another common thing to happen is that you will spend a long period of time over your books and not feel as though you have done anything constructive. Remember, if you worry about how much progress you are making, you will not be able to concentrate enough to get any real work done.
Preparing for the exam day
Double-check the time and location of your exam
Get a reasonable amount of sleep
Last minute revision
During the exam
Strategies for Answering Questions
Answer all questions: - You should always answer all questions, regardless of whether you know the answer or not. The chances are that you can gain a few marks from an attempted answer to a question to which you do not know the answer. At the end of the day one mark could make the difference between a pass and fail.
- Answer all questions
You should always answer all questions, regardless of whether you know the answer or not. The chances are that you can gain a few marks from an attempted answer to a question to which you do not know the answer. At the end of the day one mark could make the difference between a pass and fail.
- Go for the question or questions with the most marks
This technique ensures that in the event you do run out of time you will have hopefully already secured enough marks to pass. If you do miss out any questions they will only be those questions with a minimum amount of marks.
- Do not spend too long on one question
The reason behind this is that if you spend too much time on one question you will not have enough time to answer the remaining questions, and you could loose a large number of marks.
- Allow time to double check your answers
By double checking your answers you ensure that you still have enough time to correct any errors that you find. Such double-checking is essential in view of the fact that it can mean the difference between loosing or gaining some marks.
- Dealing with difficult questions
If you encounter a difficult question and you have other questions remaining, leave it, you can always come back to it later.
- Completing the exam
Subsequent to answering all questions, you should check the details on the front page of your answer booklet to ensure that they are correct. Gather your equipment and sit quietly until the exam is over.
After the exam
Your lecturer is also available to help before the exam and can suggest other techniques for revision as well as providing guidance on what to revise. If you are unclear about an area you are revising, sessions held by are an invaluable source of information.