Examination skills: How to prepare for your exam?


1.   Be ready for taking exams. 2.   Get over exam stress.

3.   Find effective strategies to follow for exam revisions.

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Examinations  are  widely  used  within  the  University  as  a  means  of  assessing  students’ knowledge and skills. It is worthwhile spending some time thinking about and improving your revision skills and examination technique. This will help you to improve your examination performance. If you are returning to study after a break you may find that you need to develop your revision and examination skills. You will find that other students are in a similar situation. Read this guide and follow the advice in it, and also make use of the special revision and examination sessions that are organised by your tutors and the Study Advice Service. The experience of Business School tutors is that some students ‘think they know it all’, perhaps because they were successful in examinations held in schools or colleges. Sometimes these students are overconfident and, as a result, do badly in their first set of examinations at the university.

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What you have to know about Examinations

Examinations are an essential part of the assessment process. University examinations are

normally held twice each year, during the assessment period fo each semester. Information about examinations is normally provided in each Module or Programme Handbook. The assessment weighting for each module varies: some examinations may only amount to 20% of the assessment weighting; most will be 50%; and some may be 100% weighting. Ensure you know the value of the examination in the assessment process as this helps you to decide how much time and energy to invest in preparing for it. The exact date, time and location of the examinations will be posted on notice boards prior to the assessment period. You will not receive this information directly by post or by email although it will be available through the University portal. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are fully aware of the examination arrangements. If you have a disability that may affect your performance in examinations then


contact your Personal Supervisor or the Business School’s Disability Officer as soon as possible

and wellbeforethe start of the examination period. It is also worth noting that, dueto unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, the arrangements for some examinations may change.

You should therefore double check what you think the arrangements are, nearer to the time of the examination, either by consulting the notice boards again or by asking the appropriate Support Office. Holidays should not be booked at times close to scheduled examinations, as arrangements areliable to change and the Business School willnot accept your being on holiday as a satisfactory reason for missing an examination. Holidays should therefore not be taken until the assessment period is completely finished. This includes the reassessment period, which should also be kept free in case you have to resit an examination or resubmit a piece of written work. Similarly, it is not seen as acceptable to be late or to miss an examination for any reason that does not satisfactorily meet the criteria laid out.

1.  Revision

The aim of the examination process is to test your knowledge and understanding in an environment with a time constraint. Examinations are not merely a memory test either – they test understanding, rather than the specific description of each and every theory and concept. They also seek to evaluate some generic skills such as time management (have you answered all the questions you need to in the given time period?) and your e
ffectiveness under pressure. These are everyday occurrences in working life. Students who are successful in the examination process are those who have developed an effective preparation technique and who are also able to manage themselves and their time during the examination.

Here are some general guidelines.

• Some students prefer to plan and begin their revision well in advance of the examination date,

studying small sections at a time when their schedule is less pressurised. Others prefer to revise continually, whether the module’s assessment involves an examination or not, just to maintain the knowledge and understanding of the module’s content. Some students prefer to leave revision until the last minute when there is little chance that they will forget what they have revised. Nobody can say which way is right and which way is wrong. You should work according to what suits you best. You may want to explore and experiment with different approaches so that you know which approach suits you best.


• It is during revision for an examination that you are likely to realise the importance of making

good, well-referenced. Time invested in making notes will mean that you are well prepared for the revision process. Therefore, maybe without knowing it, you have already started your revision. Your revision will further be speeded up and  made more efficient if you have continually revised your notes. It is easier to refresh your short-term memory than relearn what will amount to new information during a period of increased pressure.

• It is useful to look at some of the recent past examination papers for each of your subject areas.

This will help to give you a flavour of the style of questions that may come up, the presentation of an examination paper, and the terminologies used in examination questions

• Working backwards from the date of the examination make the necessary commitments in your diary and work schedule. Remember to be realistic. You will have other activities during this time, for example, lectures and seminars, assignments, or part-time work.

• Remember to work on all the modules that are going to be assessed. Do not put all your energy

into revising for one module at the cost of others.

• Allow yourself some relaxation time during your revision – you will perform better if you

have some breaks from your revision, where you spend time with friends or even spend an hour having a coffee or going for a walk. The end result of 12 hours’ non-stop revision is likely to be less productive than 3 x 3 hours’ revision, with an hour’s break in between each session.

• Most Module Leaders will run a session called ‘revision’– make sure that you attend it! These

sessions are intended to help you, and you should not turn down an opportunity for the person who will be marking your examination script to give you guidance and help.

• Revision can be split into two categories: Selective revision: Where you focus on specific topics, for example, those that you know best or find really interesting. However, do not be too restrictive – always prepare for the worst scenario: that your preferred question or questions do not appear on the examination paper, or that they do appear, but in a way that you do not feel you could effectively answer. So always revise at least one topic more than you know you will need to answer (for example, if you have to answer two out of five questions, prepare to answer three). There is no need to attempt to memorise everything that you have read, heard, or discussed throughout the module, but there is still a need to have an understanding of all the relevant issues of the subject matter. Generic revision: If, however, you are not given an


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