Guide on How to Write University Essays, Courseworks, Assignments and Dissertations

Exam Preparation Tips

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For most of the student exams is the worst part of studying. You are stressed and if you have not been studying properly within the academic year it looks like you are going to fail everything. However the reality is not that bad. If you are not aiming to get an “A” you can prepare for your exam in 3-4 days and get a good mark. This section of the web site will give you general tips on how to succeed on your exam. Below that you will find some specific information on how to deal with: normal exams, open-book exams, multiple choice exams and on cheating on exams.

How to prepare effectively for an exam


  1. Make sure you will collect all lecture notes and related material at least 2 weeks before the exam. After that this task will be almost impossible to complete.
  2. You DEFINITELY need to get some past papers for this exam. Usually you can get them from the library, university web site or from your own tutor. In some cases past papers may be accompanied with answers.
  3. 1-2 weeks before the exam talk to your tutor and ask him or her what kind of questions there will be on exam. In 70% of cases you will receive very valuable information which will significantly help you to prepare. Another important aspect is the number and worth of questions.
  4. Carefully plan your time for exam preparation. You should give yourself at least 2 full days to prepare. If you are working – take several days off work – it worth it.
  5. Start preparation from an early morning. Switch off mobile phone, TV, don’t check your emails and avoid any other disturbances. Make sure you have enough high-calories food (like chocolate).
  6. Firstly read all your lecture notes. Vast majority of exams is based on the lecture notes (only or mainly) therefore you don’t need to read all course-recommended books. If you don’t understand something – talk to your classmates, read books, search Internet. Make sure you understand everything.
  7. Secondly, answer ALL past exam papers and check your answers. It is useful to collaborate with your classmates because in this case group work may help you to avoid some mistakes.
  8. Thirdly, analyse all previous exam papers and information received from your tutor. Try to estimate what kind of exams there will be. Then, assess your capabilities. For example, if you are good with numbers and calculations and KNOW that there will be some questions of such kind on exam, it is advisable for you to concentrate on reviewing techniques related to such questions. Try to plan the questions which you are going to answer (if you are more or less sure they will appear). On 99% of exams students have choice to answer 4 questions from 6 for example), therefore you SHOULD NOT know everything! It is sometimes better to leave some areas and to concentrate on others.
  9. If you have a chance – talk to someone from previous year who took this exam. Quite often you can receive some valuable information for them.
  10. Make sure you get good sleep before the exam. Many students are much stressed and can’t sleep. Try to use your own tricks to avoid it, for example go to bed earlier, read something, don’t watch TV and etc.
  11. Wake up at least 2 hours before you need to leave the house. If you want – do some reading and reviewing, but not much. Eat well. Don’t forget to take all of your lecture notes with you to the university, because you may wish to look at them to clarify something at the last minutes.
  12. Take your own stationary: several good pens, calculator and etc.
  13. And lastly, when the exam has started – DON’T PANIC even if you seem not to know anything. Relax and write everything you know. Watch the time carefully, so that you have approximately equal amount of time for each questions.
  14. GOOD LUCK!

All Rights Reserved 2005 Verena Vaneeva

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