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Exam success tips revealed

Stressed about exams? Follow our guide to help you get the grades you want.

You've re-written those scrawly lecture notes, you've got all the relevant books out the library and you've told yourself you're off the alcohol for, well, for a while. Now what? Preparing for exams can be a daunting task but it doesn't have to be. Planning is key and if you give yourself enough time, there's no reason why you shouldn't have a (relatively) stress-free build up to E-DAY.

Before the exam

Create a good working environment

As painful as it might be to turn off the TV and ignore the fact that Glee is on repeat, it's important to have as few distractions as possible when revising. Find a quiet place to study, where there's as little background noise as possible and a good enough light for you to work in.

Your bedroom desk should work but if your house-mates insist on bringing the midday drinking games to your lounge, then head to the library. Yes, it's boring but come on, so is revision.

Make a revision timetable

Now that you've gagged your housemates/gone to the library, you'll be ready to devise a revision plan. Look at your exam timetable and prioritise your subjects in relation to their exam date and work through these topics chronologically.

It’s unlikely that you'll want to spend the same amount of time working on each subject so it might be worth going through your module outlines and seeing which topics are worth more credits, focusing on the areas that are likely to require more in-depth knowledge.

Similarly, if there are aspects of your course that you are unfamiliar with or struggle to understand, label them so that you know what you’ve got to spend more time going over. And if all that seems like too much hard work, log on to My Revision Plan for help on devising a personal schedule.

Revision timetable.jpg

Devising a revision timetable will make studying much easier

Once you've wasted enough time re-drafting, colour-scheming and laminating your timetable, it's time to actually do some work. Whether you prefer to draw spider diagrams, record yourself reciting your lecture notes, or create your own revision quiz with Get Revising, it really doesn't matter; the key is knowing exactly where to start.

Begin by picking out your first subject and dig out the syllabus you will have been given at the beginning of the module as this will outline what you should have learnt throughout the course. From there, go through your revision notes, ticking off which parts of the syllabus you have covered and which points you'll need to brush up on.

If you think you've missed something, don't feel any shame in asking one of your course mates. Two heads are better than one afterall, and the likelihood is, you'll be able to return the favour by helping them out with something.

Set yourself goals

Yes, revision might be dull. But as long as you plan ahead, you can always allow yourself some time off. Make sure you insert regular breaks into your timetable - that way, when you look up from your desk and see the day's schedule, you won't want to go and scream into your pillow.

Whether it's a 3 o'clock brew or an all-important Neighbours viewing, breaks are an important part of revision and ensure that you don't get too bogged down in exam stress.

Look after yourself

Just imagine what your mum would say if she saw you slumped over your desk at 3am, jittering from the effects of four cans of Red Bull whilst trying to memorise three month's worth of uni notes the night before an exam. It's a sad state of affairs when an exam reduces you to that, isn't it? Don't let it happen to you.

Revision breaks might help keep you sane, but drinking water and eating well will improve concentration, so make sure you ditch the late-night energy drinks and fast food, opting instead for an early night and plenty of H20 the night before an exam.

Whatever you do, don't listen to the mate that finds glee in shouting about having been up, revising all hours. They're probably lying. And if they're not, they'll be the ones nodding off in the exam hall.

Be prepared

We nabbed this one from the Scouts but it pretty much applies to anything - including getting ready for exams. Make sure you check what is required for the exam before you leave and take spare pens so there's no risk of running out of ink. And most importantly? Have a big breakfast. You don't want to hear your stomach rumbling for three hours - and nor does anybody else.

During the exam

Plan your time

The best thing to do before diving headfirst into your exam paper is to read through all the questions first, see how many marks each is worth and allocate a set amount of time for every one. Just be sure to leave enough time at the end to proof-read your answers.

Be neat

It might sound daft, but handwriting could make a difference to your marks if it means the examiner doesn't understand what you're trying to say. Smudgy or messy pages just make things harder for the examiner and - let's face it - the last thing you want to do is piss them off.

If in doubt...

The answer is C. Just kidding. Don't get frustrated if you're unsure of an answer. Take a deep breath and imagine all your revision notes; the answer is bound to be there somewhere. Still stuck? Move on and go back to it when you have more time and if you're still none the wiser, use your very best guess-work. Remember: a shot in the dark is always better than nothing.

After the exam

Breathe, you've finished! Congratulations. All that's left to do now is to go for a pint or three and burn those revision notes...


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