Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Ten tips on preparing for finals - why you should start now

Mid-term holidays are coming up at the end of August, and it may still seem as though you have plenty of time to prepare for your finals, so where’s the need to stress, right? Wrong.

By this time, you should have submitted all your assignments and the seemingly long stretch ahead to final exams is going to zoom up faster than you expect, so it’s a good idea to use the time you have now to start making preparations now so you don’t go through too much stress right before the exams.

In light of this, here are some important tips on how to prepare adequately for those all-important exams:

1. Revision
Start making time long before the exams to familiarise yourself with the material you studied right from the beginning of the module or year. That way, you won’t feel panicked when time pressure becomes more intense.

2. Plan your time
Make a timetable of the times you will have available for revision and studying and stick to it. Make sure you keep a good balance between your normal activities and your studies, but plan in such a way that you will have time to cover everything in good time before the exams start.

3. Go over your notes
If you’ve been making notes during the course of the year, now is the time to go over them and re-write them again for revision, highlighting the important points and elaborating in your own words on things you struggled to understand. Re-writing your notes (but not word-for-word) will help you re-learn the material you need to take in.

4. Study groups
Find people who are studying the same subjects and make arrangements to sit down and go over the study material. You’ll often find that discussing points you are struggling with with someone else who understands it better will help.

5. Old exam papers
If possible, get hold of some previous exam papers so that you know what kind of questions you can expect, how the questions are marked, and which sections of what you learned are important. Answering these papers as practice exams while adhering to the set time limit may help you to manage your exam time more efficiently and understand how marks are allocated.

6. Identify problem areas
Find out what portions of your study material is the most problematic for you and focus on this by reading further on the subject matter and doing more research. Answer practice questions, write essays on the topic if necessary and get help from a tutor to make sure all your bases are covered.

7. Memorise, practise or theorise
The type of studying and revision that you need to do depends entirely on your subject matter. For instance, studying for a history exam will be entirely different from the way you would study for a mathematics exam. So it’s important to understand whether you need to use memorising techniques to remember facts and dates, whether you need to write theoretical essays or whether you need to simply practise techniques and calculations until you have perfected them.

8. Ask for tips
Your lecturers will likely be happy to give you tips on what to focus on for the upcoming exams and what kind of answers they would be looking for if they were marking your exams.

9. Read
If you are studying for a theoretical subject, your lecturers will also likely tell you that they are looking for both logical and original thinking, so make sure that you take the time to not only formulate opinions which are interesting but also that you can back up those opinions with solid, logical facts, which is why it’s important to read, read and then read some more about the subject at hand.

10. Be healthy
Make sure you get a balanced diet, with lots of healthy vegetables, get some exercise and fresh air, cut down on the partying and make sure you get a good amount of sleep before the exams. Writing a paper with a streaming cold, a hangover or a tired mind is no fun for anyone, so try to stay as healthy, strong and rested as you can.

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