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Preparing for in-person exams

Tips to help you prepare for in-person exams.

This is a text alternative to the following three videos on in-person exams:

Video 1: Preparing for in-person exams: the revision period

It might be some time since you last took an in-person exam.

Maybe you’ve never taken one before.

So what can you do during the revision period to prepare?

1. Manage your time effectively.

Don’t leave revision until the last minute!

In some types of in-person exam, you won’t have access to notes, so you’ll be relying on your memory.

To make your learning stick:

  • start early
  • study in short bursts
  • mix up different topics
  • and review them at intervals.

2. Do timed practice.

Answering questions under exam conditions is one of the best ways to prepare.

It consolidates your knowledge and highlights any gaps.

You get a feel for the time it takes to answer different question types.

And it’s great training in writing quickly by hand!

Access past papers online via the Library.

3. Explore note-making techniques.

Some in-person exams allow you to take in notes.

Others don’t.

But your notes are still an important revision tool.

Maybe you’re a fan of flashcard apps … or index cards … or mind maps.

Find out what works best for you.

4. Plan your exam strategy.

Look at some past papers.

How would you approach the questions?

In what order would you answer them?

How long would you need to:

  • read and analyse the question?
  • brainstorm ideas?
  • create an outline?
  • write your answer?
  • check your work?

5. Take care of your wellbeing.

Make time to relax, exercise, socialise, eat well and sleep.

You’ll stay calm and motivated, and your brain will function much better.

Video 2: Preparing for in-person exams: the day before the exam

It’s the day before your exam. What should you do to get ready?

When you’re taking an exam in person, there are some extra things to consider.

1. Get organised.

Remind yourself of the rules and arrangements for your specific exam.

When can you enter and leave the exam room?

What if you're late?

What do you need to take?

What’s the required stationery for your exam: pen or pencil?

Have you got plenty of spares?

And what isn’t allowed in the exam?

Double-check your exam schedule, exam room and seat number on SAMIS and re-read the Student Guide to Exams.

Plan your journey and if you’ve got an early start, set multiple alarms!

2. Review your exam strategy.

Have you got a plan for tackling the exam? Now go back over it.

In what order will you answer the questions?

And how long will you spend on each one?

3. Have a final look over your notes.

Don’t start revising new material now!

But do go back over what you’ve already studied.

Just select a few areas to focus on.

4. Stick to a normal evening routine.

Don’t stay up late cramming!

You’ll perform far better if you’re well rested.

Have a nutritious meal, relax and get an early night.

5. Think positively.

Give yourself credit for the work you’ve done and visualise the exam going well.

Be kind to yourself. Focus on what you know and what you’ve achieved.

You can do this!

Video 3: Preparing for in-person exams: on the day

The day of your in-person exam has arrived.

How can you make sure everything goes smoothly?

1. Plan ahead and set out early.

Check you’ve got everything you need – including your library card and pens or pencils.

Don’t take unnecessary valuables. You’ll have to leave them in a separate area of the exam room.

Double-check your exam room and seat number on SAMIS and allow plenty of time to get to the venue.

2. Get into a positive mindset.

Feeling nervous before an exam is normal.

And a bit of anxiety can sharpen your performance.

Try to use these feelings positively. See the exam as a challenge, not a threat.

You’ve done the work. Now you have the opportunity to show what you know!

3. Practise academic integrity.

Academic integrity is central to everything you do at university and formal exams are no exception.

Be clear about the rules.

Don’t even think about trying to cheat.

Cheating is an extremely serious offence and it’s never worth it.

Make sure you can look back on your university life knowing that you did your best and earned your grades fairly.

4. Keep calm and use your time wisely.

When the exam begins, take a couple of deep breaths.

Then read the questions slowly and carefully.

Take some time to think and plan your answers.

This will keep them clear, concise and relevant.

Keep an eye on the clock and move to the next question when you need to.

5. Show consideration for others.

Be mindful of your course mates. They may be feeling less confident than you.

Some people may want to wear a mask while others may not. Respect each person’s choice.

Once it’s all over, avoid dissecting the exam or speculating on your mark.

Instead, try to focus on something else, like rewarding yourself for all your hard work!

Additional information

Exams and assessments webpages:

  • Semester 2 assessment information
  • In-person exams
  • Alternative arrangements / Disability Access Plans
  • Preparation resources and support

Semester 2 exam support from the Skills Centre:

  • Skills enrichment sessions
  • 1:1 exam skills tutorials
  • Self-access guides and modules
  • Academic & Employability Skills Blog