The Academic Skills Kit provides a range of advice and resources to support you as you prepare for exams in the coming weeks. Whether you’re struggling with exams or need tips for writing your assignments, ASK can support you with practical tips and helpful video guides. Below is just a short sample of some of the tips they provide for revision skills and exam preparation, but you can find out more here.
Organising your materials
- Check the module handbook for the learning outcomes of the module, and lecture notes to get a sense of what the exam covers. In an open book exam with all the paper and digital resources at your disposal, including the whole internet, it might be very easy to lose focus, cover too much and go off at tangents. Use the learning outcomes, lecture notes and any past papers to get a sense of the boundaries of what the exam might cover.
- Start to extend your reading. One difference between a take home paper and a traditional exam is that you are able to access sources. What sources could you draw in, and do you have them available to you? Start to locate, bookmark or download potentially useful sources and ask the library if you can’t get hold of anything you need. You might, for example, start to collect examples, case studies, evidence etc.
- When looking at the materials you have available, start to sort them into “things to learn so I don’t have to spend time looking them up in the exam” (e.g. key concepts or facts) and “things to look up in the exam if I need them so I don’t need to memorise them” (ie useful examples or details).
One of the main aspects to focus on in revision is your understanding of the material – you don’t want to be figuring things out on the day of the exam. To make sure you really understand the key ideas you’re learning, you could try the following:
- Explain it back to yourself in your own words. Summarising what you’ve just read is the best way to read actively and ensure you understand the content, or identify where you need to do more work on it.
- Represent it in a different format – turn it into a diagram, mind map, bullet point list, paragraph of text, speak it aloud, etc
- Test yourself. Practicing recall is the best way to learn something. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right at first; what matters is actively prompting the brain to recall a fact.
- Practise brainstorming an answer, identifying the problem you’re solving, focusing on the higher order thinking required and being selective and critical about the information or approaches you bring in.
- Don’t try and prepare model answers in advance – you need to precisely answer the question set, and you don’t know what it will be, so you need to practise keeping your thinking flexible and responsive, rather than pre-preparing a ‘one size fits all’ answer.