Now that the second term is over, all eyes are on our upcoming summative assessments. Alas, as you progress through your academic years, the tension and anxiety of trying to succeed only grow—but this comes from a third-year student who stresses way too much! Nevertheless, I’ve taken the initiative to compile a few tips and tricks to ensure you ace your final exams.
1. Implement your revision plan early
I mean, I tell myself this over and over again, but I constantly regret not starting my exam preparation earlier. However, the sooner you begin, the less work you’ll have to do later. You can still have a social life during the second term; you just need to be more selective about the gatherings you attend and strike a balance between your social life and your academic obligations. Around February or March, start to prioritise your work and put your mind in exam mode so that you are well-prepared for the Spring Break.
2. Create a regimented timetable
Though this works for some people but not everyone, try to make a timetable while in university. I’m aware that many people may have utilised this organisation technique during their A-Level or IB revision, but you still reap the benefits at university. You’ll be surprised at how much work you can complete in those downtimes between lectures and seminars. Realistically, suppose you treat attending a university like a 9–5 job: in that case, you’ll generally have the evenings free to engage in other activities.
3. Consider your formative assessments as practice runs
I cannot stress this enough, but really utilise your formative assignments as trial runs. Don’t just do the assessments for the sake of doing them, so your class teacher is off your back. Give it your best effort, and when you receive feedback, you’ll know exactly what to change for the summative assignments. By doing so, you’ll also be able to comprehend how the department assigns grades and what exactly they’re looking for. For instance, I chose a lot of modules outside of my home department during my second and third years, so I had to give my all in these formatives if I wanted to learn how the other departments graded their courses.
4. Learn the art of note-taking
As exam season draws near, you can break up your notes into different topics or make mind maps to help you visualise how everything is connected. You also need to decide whether you prefer electronic or physical notes. It may seem like everyone is typing away their notes, but if you feel that doing so will help you remember your information better, don’t be afraid to grab a pen and notepad. Do whatever makes you comfortable! On the subject of note-taking, if your course is filled with numerous readings, then it might be a good idea to split the readings between you and your friends. However, ensure your friends are dependable; if not, you’ll be behind on your work.
5. Understand the exam format
Even though the exam format may seem straightforward, make sure you fully comprehend it so that you know exactly how many words to write and what is expected of you for each exam. Being penalised for something you could have easily avoided is the last thing you want. You can also review the previous exams for your courses to get a general idea of the types of questions that might be asked and how they might be phrased. But since many courses vary from year to year, be sure to ask the lecturer which topics will be covered in your exam.
6. Do not neglect your health
The most crucial tip is to ensure you take care of your physical and mental health during this time. Continue your hobbies and get enough sleep; otherwise, it will be difficult for you to concentrate. For those upcoming all-nighters, you’ll appreciate the extra sleep!
In conclusion, if you find this exam period extremely stressful, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Ultimately, as long as you give it your best effort, that’s all that matters! Enjoy your studies, and good luck!