University exams are frequently called one of the most stressful elements of student life. Many of our clients complain that they face problems with preparation processes due to extreme levels of stress and insufficient availability of revision materials. Other cited factors include poor scheduling of academic workloads leading to the inability to find sufficient time for quality preparation and constantly changing requirements. Effectively, many of them are left out in the cold without a clear understanding of how they should approach exam questions and what gaps they presently have in their knowledge of the subject. This further increases their anxiety levels and makes preparation much more challenging than it should be. In this article, we will explore some pro tips on how to revise for uni exams including practical recommendations on last-minute revisions, resit exams, and alternative strategies for surviving any academic failure.
General Recommendations for University Exams and Revision
Slow and consecutive revision of the material over a long period of time is more productive than a convulsive bustling in the last days before the exams. Make a schedule of all forthcoming exams with dates, locations and approximate volume of material to be revised in advance. By developing such plans and following them, you gain a greater sense of control over your preparation process and get rid of any last-minute panic.
Mix Up Different Disciplines
When making a revision timetable, determine the subjects that you are more interested in and those that do not seem equally appealing. After that, plan your revision activities by mixing the two categories to get balanced results ‘across the board’. Exam preparations are a marathon and forcing yourself to ‘eat the frog’ first will only drain your willpower and lead to a burnout state. Try to also integrate some interval rewards for meeting your deadlines as well as regular breaks.
Find a Comfortable Place for Studying
Preparing for your future exam takes a lot of time. To use it effectively, make sure that the space you are going to be revising in is comfortable enough and allows you to maintain concentration with minimal distractions. Ideally, this should be an isolated room with a sufficient amount of light where you can place all textbooks, notes, your computer, and other gadgets (if needed) within a hand’s reach.
The most powerful enemy of concentration is noise. Therefore, you should avoid places where other people are not engaged in loud activities. If you prefer to study at home, it may be better to find a room that other family members rarely use.
It is also important to follow a healthy diet and drink enough water since brain activity takes a lot of energy that needs to be replenished.
Take Regular Breaks
Quality of revision is prevalent over quantity in this case. This means that several hours of concentrated learning activities per day are substantially better than sitting with books all day long without making any breaks. Our ability to concentrate weakens with time with few people being able to remain focused for longer than one hour at a time. Keep track of your learning activities and take regular breaks to re-energise yourself.
Some people prefer to spend their breaks sitting alone with a cup of tea or meditating. Others, on the contrary, prefer to communicate with relatives or friends. Physical activities may also be a good way to recuperate and keep your cortisol levels at bay. If possible, try to go for a short walk to get a breath of fresh air and avoid blood congestion. At the same time, you might want to adhere to moderate physical workloads during your exam preparation period to avoid the exhaustion caused by excessive training sessions.
Trim Off the Excess
Having a part-time job, personal obligations or multiple hobbies may seem like a good way to balance your academic burden and avoid burnout. However, these activities may increase your stress levels during exam periods. If possible, cut down on these spheres to ensure that you can keep all your promises even if your schedule gets suddenly filled with obligatory seminars while you are fighting a severe cold.
Being your own parent and telling yourself how important your marks are for your future career may get boring at times. A more effective way is to reward your intermediary achievements with appropriate treats to develop your intrinsic motivation. Have a tasty snack after a long study session, organise a one-day trip to the countryside after a demanding exam or meet with your friends at a local bar after a long day of seminars. Rest is an important part of growth in all spheres of life, which is why it is important to not cut down on your sleep and leisure.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Health problems may be the worst kind of force-majeure circumstances in terms of both your well-being and your academic progress. Make sure that you do your morning exercises, eat several times a day, and keep your caffeine levels in the green zone. Remember that your body and mind may already be stressed to their limits and you do not want to make this burden even harder.
Exam Revision Techniques
Do Not Follow the Clock Rigorously
Following your earlier defined schedule is crucial for maintaining steady progress but a state of flow or high-performance state cannot be planned in this manner. Let us face it, there are times when you tell yourself that you will be revising within the next two hours but your concentration is failing you. You just keep staring at your watch waiting until it’s over, which does not contribute to the results of this practice. If this is the case, try to rearrange the parts of the material you are revising or focus on specific topics and objectives you need to address rather than the time you are planning to allocate to these activities.
When you move from one topic to another one, you achieve several goals simultaneously. First, this keeps you focused on the ‘what’ element of revision meaning that you can complete all planned activities earlier and give yourself a well-earned rest. Second, a list of covered topics shows your overall progress and motivates you to proceed. Third, the focus on specific activities allows you to make your breaks more effective since you can introduce them in between different objectives to not disrupt your flow of thought.
The best way to revise for exams is to set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-related. By doing so, you can easily estimate your progress at the end of each learning session.
Use Multiple Perception Channels
By reading textbooks and notes, you only utilise a single perception channel (the visual channel) in your revision process. At the same time, you can recite the material aloud, record it, and listen to it to also engage the audial sections of your brain. Some students also find kinaesthetic activities such as writing cheat sheets more effective than reading due to the use of tactile sensations.
The use of multiple perception channels may greatly facilitate the memorisation of the material due to a higher number of neural links between the memorised information and your physical feelings. Try to experiment with these three formats and mix them to find the optimal techniques that work best in your particular case.
Create Key Word Lists and Flash Cards
Other ways of remembering the information may be lists of key words and flash cards. In the process of creating such reference materials, you link entire paragraphs of text with several text symbols, which helps you restore key information from memory afterwards. When you make such cards for all topics, you can revise or re-revise the material in any place you go without carrying your textbooks and notes with you. The opposite practice of reproducing your notes from such key words lists is equally productive. When you rewrite the material, you reconstruct the logic and understand how specific results were attained and conclusions were made.
Ask for Advice
If you cannot understand or assimilate some part of the material, do not hesitate to ask for advice. The lecturer or tutor can always explain this part of the material while senior students may share some “lifehacks” on how to revise for exams. Also, keep in mind the idea that the use of alternative sources of information such as the notes of other students or recommended literature from your reading lists may be the best way to understand complex course topics.
10 Tips for Last-Minute Revision
We have all been there. Your exam is due in one day or less but you feel that you are not entirely ready for it. While you may have invested extreme amounts of effort and time in your preparations, you fail to recall some topics from memory or remember some important facts. You feel stressed and terrified of failing your exam. In most cases, the 24-hour period you have is more than enough to go through your notes and lecture materials and pass your tests with flying colours. Here are 10 tips on how to revise the night before an exam that will help you succeed even in the direst of situations.
Wake up Early
We know this can be difficult for any student but it is important to start early and have as many hours as possible. Getting up at a reasonable time gives you some extra leeway in planning your day and ensuring that you manage to revise all relevant materials.
Create a Plan
Plan-writing forces you to appraise the size of the task at hand and set reasonable revision goals. Focus on the areas that you know will be covered in the exam and then move on to the less likely subject areas if you have time. Create a plan of how you will tackle the day of revision and try to allocate an equal amount of time to each of the important topics you need to cover. If you run out of spare hours, reduce the periods spent on individual themes to complete all your goals no matter what.
Condense Your Notes and Lecture Slides
Go back through your lecture slides and lecture notes. Write brief notes as you go and try to develop flashcards and other reference materials as you go. These will be extremely useful for the final revision at the end of the day or in the morning before your exam.
Look at Past Exam Papers
If they are available, past papers can be a great insight into topics that are included in exam questions year after year. Look through them to get a rough idea of how the exam may be organised and how much time and text you should spend on individual topics.
Try to highlight and use colour throughout your exam revision notes. This can help you memorise the key information as it is normally easier for your brain to remember the topic structure and some key facts rather than the whole page as plain text.
Even though you have limited time to cover all the revision topics, it is important to take regular breaks when revising. If you sit in the same position all day, the information will just not sink in properly. Such revision will turn out to be utterly useless the next day. When you formulate your plan, make sure that you schedule regular breaks where you get away from your desk. Ideally, you should get some fresh air to clear your head a little.
Eat Healthy Foods
It can be tempting to eat junk food throughout your revision as you are bored. However, this can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Instead, try and eat healthy and fresh food. There are particular products that are known to be good for brain activity. Purchase some blueberries, whole grains, tomatoes, and kale in advance. Opt for these healthy foods during your preparation period and treat yourself to something more exquisite when you finish your exam the next day.
Create a Cheat Sheet
Try to condense all your notes into one sheet with bite-size bits of important information. This way, you can take it with you to have a last look through this reference list right before you enter the exam.
Try not to let the last-minute revision panic you. It is important to enter the exam in a calm and positive mood as your comfort will have a direct effect on the final outcome.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
This is possibly the most important one of our last minute exam revision tips! You need to let your brain rest and have a good sleep. No matter how tempting it is to stay up all night and revise, it could be detrimental to your exam the next day! Try to get to bed before midnight and give yourself some time to relax before going to sleep. This way, your brain will ‘slow down’ and you will feel fresh in the morning.
Everything There Is to Know About Resit Exams and How to Pass Them
Traditional exams may be extremely stressful for university students both during their freshman year and beyond. However, they pale in comparison with the fears of not getting a ‘pass’ grade. Most universities are willing to give you a second chance in the form of a resit exam. However, many students are exposed to increased risks in this sphere due to the following factors:
- Not knowing what to expect during your resit exam.
- Experiencing stress and anxiety associated with ‘not being able to afford another failure’.
- Not having enough time to prepare properly due to other academic and personal obligations.
With the amount of controversies and misinformation surrounding this topic, some students feel like they simply do not stand a chance of passing a resit exam. In this article, we will try to alleviate their fears and concerns and provide some practical tips on succeeding with this challenge.
Learn Key Requirements for Resit Exams
Most universities tend to schedule resit exams during August or September. Understandably, the structure, contents, and requirements for these papers change every year. However, looking through some past examples can be invaluable for managing your expectations and understanding the scope of preparations required. Write down all key requirements prior to the start of your revision process to ensure that you remain entirely focused on the crucial areas that will be present during your resit exam.
Revise Your Past Mistakes
In most situations, you can get your failed paper with tutor comments and highlighted mistakes. These areas should be prioritised for revision afterwards since repeating these errors during your resit exam is absolutely inappropriate. However, do not allocate all of your time to revising these mistakes. While they may represent some problematic areas, you may have additional problems, which is why you should pay equal attention to all course topics and potential questions.
Have a Clear Plan
As suggested earlier, make a list of topics that will be included in your resit exam. Next, divide the number of entries by the number of hours you have. This will demonstrate how much time you can reasonably spend on each topic. Reduce these chunks by 20-25% to plan for contingencies and last-day revisions.
Make Last-minute Revisions
Scientists claim that going through some topics twice with a relatively long interval between these two repetitions ensures that you will store this information in your long-term memory and will be able to remember it at any moment afterwards. This is why you should allocate the last day prior to your resit exam to revising your earlier made notes. Make sure that you have compiled shortlists and reference materials as we advised earlier for this purpose. Also, ask your family members and friends to not distract you during the last day prior to your resit exam or work at a library or other quiet place.
Try to Relax
While this may sound weird, excessive concerns may be extremely dangerous to your success. Being overly worried about the re-sit exam is only going to add to your stress levels, which will hinder your revision process and will affect your performance. The best way to stay relaxed during the resit exam period is to allow yourself some rest every day. Allow yourself to spend one hour playing video games, walking, working out or engaging in any other pleasant activities. This will force your brain into the ‘business as usual’ state and will ensure that it does not produce enough cortisol to undermine your progress.
With that being said, facing your fears may be another effective practice for managing your stress levels. In the next section, we will discuss whether failing your resit exam really means the end of the world as many students think.
What Happens If You Fail a Resit Exam at University
This topic remains somewhat of a ‘grey area’ for many students who are so terrified of this outcome that they do not perform the necessary research to develop a Plan B. Let us face it, even the best-laid plans sometimes go terribly wrong. If you have failed your resit exam, the worst thing you can do is to not have a backup strategy for getting out of this situation. Let us close this knowledge gap by revising the information on how you can develop one.
Assess the Damage
In most universities, a resit exam is the final line of defence. If you fail it, you do not get another chance during the same semester or year. However, there still exists a number of options depending on the type of course you have failed to complete.
Elective modules are less significant than compulsory core modules. Your university may allow you to progress with your studies if your total number of credits exceeds a certain value. As soon as you realise that you might have failed your resit exam, head straight to your department executive and discuss potential future scenarios. You may also want to have a conversation with your student union to get some extra support in these negotiations.
Make a Decision
As soon as you have a final list of options laid out before you, you need to make a decision based on your financial situation, academic plans, and personal feelings. Usually, you will have at least three options:
Complete the year without getting a pass in the module in question
This is usually considered a ‘good’ scenario by some students since you can continue your studies by having some ‘extra credit points’ to complete the year. However, this option may affect your degree classification, which may not be suitable for all learners willing to get perfect grades.
Retake a year
This is a more traditional scenario where you have to go to all classes one more time (and pay one more time for doing so). This allows you to ‘regroup’ and better understand the reasons for your failure. Retaking a year may be an optimal path if you need to get good grades and your gaps in knowledge turned out to be too substantial, which led to a resit exam failure.
Refer to extenuating circumstances
In some situations, you may feel that the decision of the exam board was not quite fair or your performance could be adversely affected by health issues, family problems or other similar factors. If you choose this strategy, do not refer to ‘harsh marking’ as a reason for your failure since most universities use multiple examiners and consider their decisions well-founded. However, extenuating circumstances may be considered a valid reason for giving you another chance.
Reconsider your career choices
If you are a hard-working student who has just failed one or several core module exams including resit exams, chances are they might be something wrong with your career choices. Many learners follow the recommendations of their parents or other persons they trust but find out first-hand that some paths may not be carved for them. If this is the case, you may want to change your academic direction instead of retaking the same year to get you closer to your ideal career goals.
Take a gap year
If you failed your resit exam due to some extenuating circumstances such as financial instability, health issues or family problems, you may opt for taking a gap year rather than submitting your documents for retaking a year right away. This will give you the time to resolve your challenges, investigate alternative career choices or obtain work experiences in your area of interest to come back with a vengeance and really nail your course exams the next time.
Ask for help
Professional academic writing services, like 15 Writers can help you with an extensive exam revision note service to help you ace any exam! Get in touch to find out how we can help you pass your exams.