Academic Writing Complete Guide
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Exam preparation and Techniques
Exam preparation and techniques
8.1 Before the exam
The preparation for your exams begins in earnest at the start of the semester because the exam will be a summative assessment of what you have covered during that period. Therefore, it is crucial that you start your semester with the idea of preparing for the final assessment. Ensure that you note are clear and arrange them in a logical manner.
It is good to plan early in when to start your revision. There are those who work perfectly under pressure, but it is advisable that you allocate enough time to plan, rest and for any unforeseen eventualities.
It is important that you start your revision by going through past papers checking the potential format of the exam, as well as the remaining time. You also have to identify potentially examinable topics in details. Sometimes you might cover the module with limited opportunity to delve deeper into details in your answers. You can check with your lecturer that nothing in the format of the exam is under review during that semester. You can choose some topics that if you know that you will provide in-depth answers and as such, you can research them.
Alternatively, if you are sure that the exam will encompass broad aspects of your module, you have to ensure that you understand major themes that may arise. In every case, you should have room for choice. For instance, if you know that you will have to provide answers to two topics, revise at least four of them. This offers plenty of options on the questions that you will choose. Once you decide the best time to start your revision, formulate a plan covering the available time. Allocate adequate time to each exam as well as each topic for which you want to revise. This will enhance your ability to stick with time. When you are creating a plan, you have to factor in breaks in between the revision sessions. During these breaks, you can do something else that is not related to your studies just to refresh and rejuvenate your brain.
Do not try to cram for an exam or revise until wee hours of the morning. Your mind is supposed to be clear and fully rested before you sit for the exam. You have to give yourself adequate time to read your notes but do not try to read the new information at this time.
8.3 How to revise
There is always the temptation of starting your revision by simply reading your notes and committing them to your memory. This technique is quite passive and boring. It becomes more effective if it is an active revision where your brain is doing something. Active revision depends on the research on the exam. If the exam hinges on an essay, past essay papers can suffice as you try to provide mock answers. Try setting the exam questions on your own and provide answers to them. Do not fully answer them but ensure that you have timed yourself. This enables you to time yourself as you pace to meet the deadlines. You can apply mind mapping everything you know about the topic as a different test of your acquired knowledge and later ascertain anything from your revision notes. If you have a revision friend, the better. Try setting questions for each other and then ‘mark’ the work for each other. This will help you in understanding how the lecturers set the exam questions and the kind of responses they want from you.
Conversely, if the exam hinges on note learning, it is advisable you apply other techniques. Compile the fact that is a little bit hard to fathom and post them in places you go every day, like the kitchen, fridge, bathroom and so on. You can also transfer information on cards and use them as cues for testing your memory. Once again, if you have a revision buddy, you can text each other’s knowledge using p[at papers.
8.4 During the exam
Ensure that you have all the equipment for the exam and that they are all in good working order. Ensure that you have adequate knowledge of where and when the exam is going to take place. This seems obvious, but even the most organized fellow can become forgetful because of exam stress.
Enter the exam room with an estimate of the time you will spend on each question. For instance, if you are answering three questions in a two-hour exam session, take five minutes to choose the question, ten minutes for planning and another ten minutes for reading back through your answers to the question towards the end. You are left with an hour and fifteen minutes of writing time. You have 25 minutes per question.
The choice of questions is important and you ought to take time to go through the options and settle in the most appropriate question. Ensure that you understand what the question is asking before you even plan your answer. This will prevent you from stopping midway in your planning just because you jumped on the first topic that you recognized.
Planning for your questions is theoretically similar to the way you plan for the essay questions. The only distinction is that you will have your notes at hand. However, in practice, you will not have such a long time to plan for your essay during an exam, as you would plan sitting at home. Analyzing the question is important, and you will be able to identify the topics that the question is targeting.
Some people jump right into the plan, but if you are unsure on how to prepare for exam, the mind map can suffice as a quick way of transferring information from your brain on a topic. It should be loose, quick and uses keywords to put it in your essay. Think regarding structures as stated earlier, especially if the essay structure is not immediately clear from the analysis of the question. Refrain from complicating your structure to t ensure you can keep track of where you are heading. In your plan, note the amount of time that you intend to use on each section and stick to it.
Once you are through with the exam, give yourself some time, and read it over again checking and correcting any mistakes in grammar spellings punctuations and any unclear writing. Any other academic work you have used in your exam should be referenced. The grading will not be as rigid as the one used in essays and as such, you will not have to include a bibliography. However, it would suffice to use the name of the author title of the work, and the date is possible.
8.5 When things go south
Sometimes the exams may get the better of you, or you fall ill on the D-day. There can also be some unforeseen circumstances that can interfere with your performance. If you have managed to reach the exam room, be confident. Answer the questions to the best of your ability and do not cross any of your notes out, they might contain some information that might give you some good credit. If the problem is illness-related or serious problems beyond your control, you have to notify your lecturer. For illness related problems, ensure that you visit the doctor and come with some evidence to support it.