10 top tips for exam season

Three students studying in the library.

The Study Advice team are here to help you prepare for exams! Learn their top tips for revising, and advice on what to do on the day of the exam.

Tips for efficient revision… 
1. Make a plan! Check when your exams are scheduled and allow yourself plenty of time for revision in small doses. 

2. Note the format of your exams. Format may differ among different Schools and modules; make sure your information is correct and up to date, so you can prepare accordingly.

3. Go beyond your lecture notes. You can’t revise everything in detail, so select fewer topics to focus on in more depth. Check your reading list for further reading; think how you’d use what you’ve read to answer a question. Use your module’s revision session to ask questions or clarifications of the module convenor.

4. Past papers are your friends! Use them to work out how many topics to revise, to practise writing quick plans and timed answers, and to familiarise yourself with exam instructions. Past papers are available to you on the Past Papers Archive.

5. Take good care of yourself. Eat healthy meals, sleep properly, and give yourself time off – taking breaks will reinvigorate your brain and increase your efficiency in processing information.

Tips for the day of the exam… 

6. Read the questions carefully. Don’t just look for familiar key words; check again. You might find the topic you are well prepared for is worded differently.

7. Use outlines before your start writing. Think about the key points in your answer, and dedicate a paragraph to each one. To structure your paragraph, make your point early and clearly, then give your evidence and analysis to support it, and end with a concluding sentence to link the point back to the question.

8. Work out your timings. Know when you need to move on to the next question. Spend longer on questions worth more marks and allow time for checking. If your exam is not timed, it is still advisable to stick to recommended timing and word count; this will help you understand the scope required to cover and avoid going off topic.

9. Don’t panic! Under pressured conditions in invigilated, time-bound exams, you may initially feel you don’t know enough; go over the question again and put down in a list what you do know. If you blank, take a few deep breaths and don’t push yourself to remember. Instead, move to a question you can answer and return afterwards. Chances are you will remember when your brain isn’t under pressure.

After the exam… 

10. Reflect on your experience. What strategies worked well? Use these in your preparation for the following exams.

Want more advice for preparing for exams? 

With exam season approaching please remember the Study Advice team are available to help you succeed in your exams. They can help you to get the most out of the revision, and help you to feel better prepared for the moment you sit down in the exam room.

The Study Advice Preparing for Exams guide has a whole range of advice, from revision and memory strategies whilst preparing for exams, to advice on answering exam questions. 

For guidance on effective revision, preparing for different types of questions, and exam room strategies, check out the Study Advice video series. 

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