Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects , October 2010
Alistair Morey, Learning Development Coordinator at the University of Surrey offers his advice to freshers on making it through first term assessments and exams.
I think the biggest change people notice is that they don’t usually get to submit drafts for feedback before their final submission of an assignment. Therefore, it’s important to carefully read any guidelines and assessment criteria to ensure that what you submit matches what you are being asked to do.
Top tip: Make sure you answer the question that’s been set. When you do get feedback, make sure you take it on board for your next assignment. Even if it’s a different topic, the general points will be relevant.
In an ideal world, you’d revise as you go along. This is asking a lot, but you should at least ensure the notes you make from lectures, classes etc make sense and will still make sense when it comes to exam time.
It’s also a good idea to do some extra research to fill in any gaps in your knowledge particularly if you aren’t sure you understood something the first time round. It’s much easier to do when the topic is fresh in your mind rather than several weeks later.
Top tip: It’s useful to type up notes and/or present them in diagrammatic form (for example mind maps).
Planning is very important, as long as it doesn’t become a way to avoid doing real work. Look at everything you need to do, and draw up a plan. It’s important that this is achievable as planning to do more than is possible in the time can add to exam stress.
You need to be realistic and honest with yourself. If you’ve got more to do than you have time for, you need to adjust what you are trying to do (for example, reduce the number of topics you’re revising). It’s also important that you know how you work; there’s no point drawing up a plan where you start at 8am each day if you don’t work well in the mornings.
Top tip: People can only concentrate for limited periods of time, so don’t try to study constantly for hours on end as things won’t go in. It’s useful to have real breaks where you go and do something completely different.
See what help is available in your university. Most will have members of staff who can help, whether it’s in the academic departments, university libraries or study skills centres. Studying with other people on your course can help too. Study groups can share workloads and give you a chance to check your understanding of a topic with others.
There are also sources of support for coping with anxiety associated with exams and revision, possibly in health, wellbeing or counselling centres or other pastoral services. Personal tutors, academic departments and students’ unions can usually advise on who to get in touch with and how.
Top tip: Don’t try to do it all on your own. Make use of the support available to you, both inside your department and elsewhere in the university. And talk to your friends – it’s a good way to study, and it also helps to keep you sane.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.