Yes.  Sadly at university you need to do exam revision too.  You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?  Just when you thought that the end of A Levels meant the end of sitting in a sports hall with countless other people scribbling away in a booklet… then BANG.  You’re hit with them in your Uni life too.

Exams are often different at Uni than it was at school or during your A Levels, but still have to be done.  There are some big differences that I think you should know about and look for.

  • Many exams contain what are called pre-released questions – basically, the module tutor tell you what the questions will be.  If your module has a handbook or module uide that is available for you to use, they could well be in there – it’s worth reading through everything you’re given to see if you can spot them.
    Normally this will be for longer questions where you’ll be writing several sides of A4 to answer just the one question.  They’ll need to be really detailed answers and will carry themost marks – one or two paragraphs are really not what they’re after!
  • Unlike previous exams, you’ll likely get a choice of which questions you answer.  Put simply, you won’t have to answer every question available to you.  It will always tell you on the exam bookletwhat you need to answer.
    Beware though, that doesn’t mean that, if there are six questions and you need to answer one, you pick the easiest one and revise for that one only – lecturers and module heads can bepretty sneaky.  What they might say could be “Here are six questions that could be asked.  Any three of them could turn up in the exam and you answer one of those.”  Very crafty!
  • If you are finished early, some Unis say you don’t have to stay until the end of the exam.  Simply inform the invigilators that you are done and, subject to certain conditions, you may well be allowed to leave.

With all of this in mind, here are some handy tips for you Uni students on how to survive those dreaded end-of-year exams:

  • Get the basic stuff right – Know when your exam is and what time.  You also need to know where you’re going for the exam too.  If you are registered as having a disability or in need of extra support (such as a scribe or extra time) then you might need to tell your university support service about your exam and ask about what you might expect!  If not, you might find yourself at a disadvantage.  (Remember though that just because you are entitled to extra support, you don’t have to use it – it’s whatever you feel comfortable with.)
  • Know your rules – Each exam sets their own rules and regulations when it comes to exams so it may vary, depending on the nature of the exam and which Uni you attend.  You might find that some Unis allow you to eat during an exam, others might not.  Some Unis, as previously mentioned, might allow you to leave early after an exam… But they might not allow you to leave in the first half hour (so you don’t tell any late-comers what’s in the exam before they go in.)  Remember there might well be rules on what material you can take into the exam and, of course, the endless rules on calculators.  If you’re n any doubt, your Student Support Service will tell you what to do.
    Use the rules to your advantage – if you’re allowed to take food in, pack a banana for when you want a boost of knowledge!
  • Get the revision done early – The key to surviving university exam revision is to be preparing  throughout the module rather than trying to cram it all in a week before the big day.  After each lecture or seminar I suggest taking the time to go through your notes and develop your understanding.  That way, you get to know the deeper meaning behind each topic.  University lecturers don’t ‘spoon-feed’ it anywhere near as much as school teachers; just knowing the lecture notes won’t get you the top marks!
  • Don’t go it alone! – You’d be amazed how many people slave away with revision on  their own.  With the emphasis on longer essay questions, you’ll find that you need a bank of ideas and different theories and arguments.  Believe me when I say that you won’t think of all these yourself.
    When I was preparing for my economics exam this summer, I sat down with two coursemates and went through our own ideas about how each question should be answered.  Everyone had different economic theories and arguments – all of which I ended up putting in he essay.  Now, that’s not to say you should directly copy your peers, but having a different range of theories and opinions is going to impress the marker much more.
  • Relax – Opening that exam booklet and finding every question is either awful or not what you were expecting can make you panic.  However, its important that when you open up the first page you take a deep breath and read everything carefully.  You might find that by reading things out little bits and pieces will click and you’ll be able to structure your essay better.  Even if it’s not exactly the same, you’ll be able to use what you’ve learnt to make something out of it.

Are you a Uni student and have your own recommendations on how to get the job done?  Let us know! 




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