Exam preparation

To prepare well for exams, you’ll need to organise your time and develop clear study goals. We hope the following strategies and tips can help you better prepare for your exams and reduce exam stress!

Prepare early

Try and keep up with weekly content throughout the trimester because when you get to exam revision you should be truly revising, not trying to catch up on content that you didn’t do during the trimester.

– Gypsy O'Dea, Writing Mentor

In this video, Deakin student mentors give advice and practical tips on exam preparation, coping on the day of the exam, and how to deal with exam stress.

Prepare for exams early in the trimester

From O' Week

First few weeks of trimester

Intra-trimester break

  • Meet with my study group and create a set of possible exam questions.
  • Complete a past exam paper, if available.
  • Read the general information about exams at Deakin, so that I know what to expect.
  • Check the final exam date and time, when available.

Revision tips

I do a lot of practice exams, just because the more questions you expose yourself to, the less likely you will get caught by surprise when you get into the actual exam.

– Storm Logan, Maths Mentor

Revision is a learning strategy where you review materials that you are already familiar with and understand to some degree. So revision is part of process that needs to begin from Week 1. Reading something for the first time just before an exam is not an effective way to learn!

Tips to revise effectively

  • Maintain a regular revision schedule throughout the trimester, e.g. after each class / seminar.
  • Take class notes and create your own summaries to help you revise later on.
  • Study more challenging content at a time of day when you are more alert.
  • Set up a study group and revise with classmates. Online students can meet via Skype.
  • Use mind maps (digital or hand written) to explore processes and connections between key concepts.
  • Use flip-cards (digital or hand written) to test yourself or others.
  • Revise past exam papers.
  • Write practice essays.
  • Talk to friends and family about what you’re learning.
  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet and exercise regularly to fuel your brain and body. Do this throughout the trimester, but especially during assessments.
  • Reward yourself when you have achieved a small goal, e.g. studied for an hour with a friend or completed a practice exam.

Learn more about using flip cards to revise for exams.

Learn more about using mind maps to revise for exams.

Managing the exam

I like to have a routine on exam days where I come to my exam location early. I like to get a coffee. I like to bring in some last-minute notes to review, but I don’t try and cram a lot of extra stuff into that day.

– Gypsy O’Dea, Writing Mentor

The day before the exam

  • Double-check the exam time, venue, transport and parking.
  • Read over your notes, but don’t cram!
  • Pack your bag: get all materials together, e.g. pens, highlighters, pencils, calculator, books/notes (for open-book exams), student card. Be sure to check what you are permitted to take into your exam.

On the day of the exam

  • Eat breakfast to keep yourself energised and alert throughout the exam.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine. Too much coffee (or energy drink) can interrupt your focus and increase anxiety. Drink plenty of water. Your brain performs better when it's well hydrated.
  • If you're feeling nervous, try to relax yourself by taking some deep breaths or go for a walk.
  • Avoid talking to other students if this will make your more nervous.

During the exam

  • Use your reading time carefully to understand the exam structure and questions.
  • Allocate time for each question according to how many marks a question is worth.
  • Start with the easier questions first to ensure that you get those marks and use the remaining time to complete more difficult questions.
  • If you come across a question that you can't answer, leave it and move on. Come back to the question at the end.

Strategies to answer multiple choice questions

  • Always read and re-read the instructions.
  • Read all alternatives before choosing an answer – and consider all of them.
  • Don’t waste valuable time on one answer.
  • If all else fails, make a guess (unless you will lose a mark for an incorrect answer).
  • Double-check that your responses on the answer sheet match the questions that you are trying to answer!

Strategies to answer short answer and essay questions

  • Always read and re-read the question. Underline key words.
  • Keep in mind that your response will need to be brief and direct – there will be no time to digress in your response.
  • Plan your response before you start writing on the answer sheet.
  • Make sure that your handwriting is clear.
  • Do a final check for spelling, punctuation and grammar.
  • If you run out of time for a question, write dot points to summarise what you intended to say – you may get at least some marks for this.
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