The way in which you learn will affect the sort of memory technique that you might use. People tend to be divided into three basic categories of learners.
Approximately two thirds of students are visual learners. They learn best when they can see or visualise their information. This could be in the form of notes, diagrams, symbols, pictures, and so on.
About 30 per cent of students are auditory learners. They learn best by taking their cues from sounds. Information becomes more meaningful for them when it is spoken out loud.
Kinaesthetic learners (about 5 per cent of students) learn best through using touch, movement and space. Learning most often occurs through imitation and practice.
Nobody is exclusively a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learner. However, one style of learning will tend to predominate.
Most memory techniques are written for visual learners. If you learn best through listening or using kinaesthetic style you will need to adjust your techniques to suit. For example, recording important information onto a tape and listening to it repeatedly.
This means that the answer to the question must be chosen from a range of possible answers, given to you as part of the question. You will be asked to choose the answer that you think best fits the question. Be sure to read your instructions to candidates section carefully.
Question - Which is the capital of Sweden?
You would usually be required to indicate the correct answer by writing your answer as (a), (b), (c), (d), or (e) in your examination book.
Some examiners might require you to write the correct answer in full, rather than just give the appropriate letter. Other examiners might require that you circle an answer (or tick the appropriate answer box as indicated) on the question sheet and then hand that sheet up to be marked.
In a web-based examination format you would be asked to click on the appropriate answer. Or on the button next to the correct answer.
The length of a short answer is quite flexible. It could range from one word, to a phrase, to a sentence or to a paragraph.
Whatever the required format of the short answer, you will almost certainly be tested on memory (i.e. your ability to recall specific information) rather than interpretation. The examiner will be expecting you to produce discrete pieces of information.
Only in a paragraph length answer might any significant interpretation be required, but even then the limitations of space should guide you as to how much detail is required. If in doubt, re-read your exam instructions.
Short answers, as well as multiple choice and true/false examination questions, usually emphasise central issues within the subject. In revising for an exam that uses one or more of these three forms, it is advisable to focus on identifying the main points, and how they might relate to each other.
Essay answers in exams differ from those done during the semester in two respects:
If you can make some knowledgeable references to key texts for your subject then so much the better.
You will be expected to write an essay that:
Usually, exam essays will require you to explore the major themes of your subject. The lecture topics and (especially) the tutorial topics will give you a reasonable, but not foolproof, guide to the main issues. In particular, the tutorial questions offer some idea of how exam questions might be structured. You can also look at past exam papers to get some idea of both the structure and content of questions asked in the past.
Practise writing up plans for each question. This plan should set out major headings and a basic outline of the main ideas that you would include under each.
You could also practise writing an essay answer in a set time limit for at least one or two of these. To determine how long your practice time limit should be, you will need to know some background details of the exam.
Suppose exam one:
Therefore, each essay will take up 25 per cent of the total marks and total exam time. If you have to do four questions in 180 minutes (i.e. three hours), you will have approximately forty-five minutes per question. For practice purposes, work on a time span of forty minutes. In an exam situation this will allow you some extra time for planning and re-reading your answer.
Suppose exam two:
Again, 60 per cent of the exam time (i.e. 108 minutes) will need to be used for the essays. However, one essay needs 40 per cent of the total essay time of 108 minutes. Thus this essay will need about 43 minutes. The other two each need 30 per cent of the remaining essay time of 65 minutes. This means that they each need about 32 minutes. Again, for practice purposes, you should reduce the time for each essay by five minutes so that in the exam situation you will have an extra five minutes per question available for planning, re-reading and so on.
Practical exams in science disciplines aim to examine your ability to perform specific tasks in which you apply your knowledge of the subject to solving specific practical problems or performing specific tasks.
The best way to prepare is to practice what you will be required to do in the exam.
Work through the various laboratory exercises that you did during the semester.
Remember, in a practical exam, the examiners are trying to find out what you know by examining how you apply your understanding of the subject matter to the problems posed in the exam.
An open book exam means that you can take your notes, specified books and other references into the exam room. This will probably vary with the subject and the lecturer concerned.
Open book exams can be a trap because you might think that you do not need to concentrate on revising the subject to the same extent as a closed book exam. WRONG!
There are three main areas that your preparation must encompass:
Examinations in mathematics, physics, accounting, economics, and similar sorts of subjects commonly use this format of question.
The key to success here is to have a thorough understanding of the theories and concepts that give rise to the various formulae that you need to use. The best way to do this is to work through lots of problems similar to the sorts of ones that you are likely to get in the exam.
Work through each problem step by step. If you end up with a wrong final answer, go back over the steps that it took to solve the problem. Work your way forward until you isolate the wrong move.
One of the hardest aspects of problem solving is to determine what the question is asking you to do. Practice with as many questions as you can find so that you can improve your ability to decode the questions.
In an oral examination, the questions are delivered and answered on a face to face basis. In most undergraduate areas, except for languages and medicine, oral examinations are fairly rare.
Revising for an oral examination will require you to do much the same sort of preparation as for objective, short answer, and essay modes of examination.
Give some thought to the likely aims of an oral exam within the context of your subject. Your lecturer or tutor will be able to give you some subject specific advice about how to proceed.
In most cases, the exam will be looking to assess your understanding of the subject matter, especially vocabulary (if a language), key ideas, your ability to verbalise and explain your thought processes, and so on.
The top tip for successful revision is to make a plan; otherwise it is easy to waste your precious revision time. We recommend that you start your revision at least six weeks before your exams begin. It is helpful to look at your exam dates and work backwards to the first date you intend to start revising.
Revision is an ongoing and cumulative process. It is not wise to leave revision until the night before the exam. You should revise after each lecture and tutorial. Plan your revision across the semester.
The first thing you need to do formulate a revision timetable.
For each subject:
Good planning and effective preparation will mean that you will not need any last minute cramming efforts.
There are many different revision strategies and the ones you use will depend on your learning style and the type of exam.
On the day of the exam the most important task is to remain calm and to keep focused on what you have to do. At this stage there is nothing to be gained from worrying about your preparation or lack of it.
However, there are strategies you can pursue to maximise your chances of success.
When sitting an exam make effective use of your reading time.
All exams will have a designated period known as reading time. Usually this will be ten minutes, but in some units (e.g. law) reading time can extend beyond that to twenty or thirty minutes.
This is the time in which you:
It might happen in an exam that your inspiration suddenly dries up, or your mind just seems to go blank.
Do not panic.
There are a number of things that you can do.
It is normal and natural to feel some stress associated with tests and exams. However, that stress should not prevent you from studying or thinking clearly in the test or exam.
There are a variety of indicators or signs for anxiety including:
With exams, you will probably be asking yourself questions like:
Keep reminding yourself of the following points:
This is a potentially risky time because you will be surrounded by many other students feeling just like you - anxious and stressed out and other students who seem to be very relaxed and light hearted.
There are several things that you can do to minimise being influenced by other people’s negativity.
Remember that you have done all that you can possibly do to prepare for the exam. The time for worrying about what to expect has long passed.
In most cases you will probably be too busy to worry about not passing. Occasionally, however, you might find that you are running out of steam with a particular question. This can be a dangerous moment in an exam because it opens up the possibility for you to lose your focus and concentration.
There are several things that you can do if you find your thoughts drifting away from the task at hand.
Try to refocus your energy. Relax by taking several deep breaths, hold them in and then count slowly as you let them out.
Decide whether to persevere with the question. Will your time be better spent on another question? You can always come back to this one when you have completed the other required questions. It is possible that you might remember things to use in this question while doing another.
Keep reminding yourself that:
Feeling stressed is one of the most common student complaints at university.
Stress is a normal reaction to unexpected events in everyday life.
However, our stress level increases if: we are faced with something new, unexpected, or unknown (or potentially catastrophic!).
There are a number of physical symptoms that alert us to a stressful situation:
With exams, you will probably be asking yourself questions like:
Steps that you can take to help reduce the level of stress affecting you.