Preparing for exams

Before exams

The best way to handle the stress of exams is to be prepared for them. Preparation will also help you get better results.

1. Plan your study schedule early

  • Get organised as early as you can. Do not leave preparation until the last minute
  • Check your exam timetable and work out your exam study schedule to suit

2. Find out what the exam will cover

  • Ask your lecturer what the exam will cover
  • Get copies of past exams for your units
  • Talk to students or friends who have already done the unit(s)

3. Review your study material

  • Make a list of what you may need to know
  • Prioritise your list based on your discussions with your lecturer
  • Review your notes, key reading material and past exam papers
  • Make notes on the key issues as you do your review
  • Make flash cards if you have to remember key information
  • Practice answering exam questions
  • Consider forming study groups with other students
  • If you can study with a group, ask each other review questions

During exam week 

It is normal to feel some tension during exam week.  A little anxiety can make you more alert and improve your performance.

1. Dealing with tension 

  • Stay positive. Try to see the exam as applying what you have learnt
  • Keep away from people who are very anxious because they can make you more anxious
  • Try to get some exercise each day. It can help reduce muscle tension, release nervous energy and help you sleep

2. Taking good care of yourself

  • Keep to a regular routine of eating, sleeping and study
  • Don't stay up all night. Even 4 or 5 hours sleep may be enough
  • Don't overdo stimulants like coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks
  • Avoid drugs, except those prescribed by your doctor. Diet pills can make exam anxiety worse

3. Managing your schedule effectively

  • Take time off from your part-time job if you can
  • Don't watch TV, play computer games or spend time on other hobbies until after the exams
  • Start studying early to avoid last-minute cramming
  • Schedule regular study each day
  • Vary what you study so you can maintain your interest
  • Schedule short review periods just before each exam
  • Allow yourself regular breaks so you stay fresh
  • Plan rewards such as movies, games, visiting friends or a meal out for when exams are over

4. Preparing yourself for the exam day

  • Know the time and place for each exam and make sure you know how to get there
  • Check what you need to bring to each exam and have it ready the night before
  • Allow plenty of time to get to your exam. Don't rush