Our top tips for exam preparation

Exams are never passed by accident. Effective preparation takes time, effort and to a large extent, understanding what works best for you.

Do you need help preparing for an upcoming exam? Here are our top tips, thanks to the team at the Academic Learning Centre…


1. Do your homework

There are very important questions to ask when preparing for any exam:

  • Are past exams available?
  • What format will the exam be in?
  • What percentage of your overall grade will come from the exam?
  • Has your Lecturer emphasised any topics throughout the term?
  • Is there perusal time?
  • What equipment or resources can you take to the exam?
  • Where and when is the exam being held?

Finding out the answers will give you a clear idea of how and what to prepare. Check and double check the exam location and what you need to take to the exam.

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2. Make a plan and stick to it

Prepare a list of topics, prioritise, and allocate time to study each topic. Don’t be tempted to pull an all-nighter before the exam, your body and brain need sleep to function properly. Set aside some general revision time on the day before the exam.

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3. Approach this with the right attitude

Stay positive. Avoid ‘panic talk’ with others, as this can only lead to more stress and worry. If you didn’t keep up with your weekly reading this term, don’t dwell on it. Allow yourself the time you need to catch up and make a mental note to try harder next time.

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4. Give yourself the right fuel

Don’t rely on stimulants. It may feel like the 6th cup of coffee or energy drink is turning you into some kind of super-student. The truth is overuse of any stimulant won’t help you at all. There will never be a substitute for a well-rested and prepared mind. Eat healthy food and make sure you’re hydrated.

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5. Know what works for you

Figure out what works for you and how you retain information. Let this self-awareness influence whether you make lists, flowcharts, watch videos or listen to audio materials (or a combination of them).

Think of unique ways to remember things. Mnemonics, making up bizarre stories and songs about your subject can really help you prepare.

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6. Practice, practice, practice

Practice makes perfect. Consider completing chapter reviews in textbooks or past exams to check your knowledge. Don’t be afraid to use other resources like YouTube or books, but first check if they’re credible sources.

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Contact the Academic Learning Centre (ALC) for more information regarding exam preparation and workshops.

Best wishes for your exams,
The ALC Team

Mae Swarbrick (https://cqunilife.com)

Mae Swarbrick is a current student, studying part-time in the Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Arts, and working full-time as Student Communications Officer. Mae's ongoing experience as a current student is invaluable in her role as leader of the Student Communications team. Combine this with practical experience in the call centre, Admissions and Student Communications teams, and she’s ready to share some first-rate uni hacks for new students. Follow Mae on #How2Uni.


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