How to prepare and succeed in your exams

An exam is a form of assessment that most students will need to undertake. The lead-up and exam period can be daunting and stressful. Our tips and strategies will help you get prepared and organised, as well as provide proven and effective study and revision techniques.

Getting mentally and physically ready

To study effectively and efficiently for exams, we recommend you organise your time and resources as early as possible.

Ready

Get ready by reviewing your course profiles, which can be found in Learning@Griffith.

Each profile should indicate what type of exam you will be taking, online or on-campus, essay, short answer, or multiple choice exam or a combination.

The assessment for students website has information on how to prepare for online exams. And this website provides useful tips on taking open book exams. Be aware that you must maintain academic integrity in open book exams.

The next step to get ready is to check the myGriffith exam timetable to discover the date, time and location of your exam. The exam timetable is usually released a few weeks before the start of Study Week. For more information on exam procedures, visit Exams.

For on-campus exams, be sure to double check the details 24 hours prior to the exam as venues can change.

For more information on preparing for online proctored exams, visit ProctorU online support.

Set

Set your exam and study goals. Check how you are doing in your course so far and set realistic goals.

Based on the results for all your completed assessment items, calculate how many marks you need to achieve your desired overall course grade. That’s what you should work towards.

Be sure to reward yourself when you reach these goals.

Go

Time to get Go-ing.  Set up your study schedule for the time leading up to, and including, the exam weeks. Daily and weekly planners are available free online or use Griffith’s weekly study planner.

It is important that you schedule time for social and physical activities in this planner as well. Your study time will be more productive when you maintain a healthy balance of exercise, eating and sleeping.

Time management

How can a tomato help you stop procrastinating?

Organise and revise

The study period is a time for you to organise, revise and focus on the task at hand.  Below are some tried-and-tested study and revision strategies to help you remember course vocabulary and key concepts.

Summarise and revise your notes

As soon as possible, review your lecture and tutorial notes.  If you missed a lecture, be sure to listen to the recording.

In revising your notes, identify key concepts and vocabulary. Avoid simply rewriting them, rather synthesise and consolidate.

For more in-depth information on note-taking and template suggestions, refer to the following Study Skills page.

Study in chunks

Research shows that students who cram, or study in extended blocks of time, do not recall or retain as much information as those who study in smaller time chunks.

Ideally, try to organise your study into 20-30 minutes segments, particularly very dense and challenging material.

Along with this, study at your ‘optimal time’ and in a location conducive to study.

Be an active learner

Try to approach the content in different ways, employing different senses. This might mean using visual aids such as mind maps and flashcards, or auditory approaches like podcasts or teaching someone else.

Another way to be an active learner is to connect abstract concepts with something concrete – give it a real world context and application. Connect it to other subjects and ideas.

Active learning also involves removing things that will distract you, such as social media.

Form a study group

Whether you’re studying for an online or on-campus exam, a study partner or group is an effective way to activate learning. Not only do they provide a support system, but study buddies help with content clarification and perspective.

You may find some helpful tips at group projects when setting up your study group.

Test yourself

If past exams are available, then work through them as they may provide a guide as to the types and style of questions you could be asked.

It is recommended that you try to complete them with the same time constraints.

Be sure you, or your study buddy, marks the exam which will indicate where more study is required.

If exam papers are not available, you and your study group can write up your own questions.

Exam day

When the big day is finally here, remember the hard part is over. The content is in your head—it’s ready and waiting to be unleashed onto your exam paper, you just need to set it free. Follow our exam day tips below to help you perform your best.

Exam day tips

Get organised

The night before is a good time to gather what you need for exam day, whether that is double-checking your technology (for online exams) , or packing your bag for on-campus exams.

Be aware that very few items are allowed in the exam room.

For on-campus exams, know where you are going and where you will park.

Stop studying

When it comes to exam day, stop studying. Trying to cram will only create more tension and stress, which will not help you remember or perform better.

You have done the hard work in the lead up, so it’s time to put the books and notes away and focus on stress-reducing activities such as deep breathing, mindfulness and exercise.

Self care

Throughout the exam process it is important that you look after your physical and mental well-being.

This is especially the case the night before each exam. As best you can, eat well and get a good night’s sleep.

Be sure to start your day with an energising breakfast, something you would normally eat.

Use your time wisely

Plan how much time you will spend on each part of exam, including having time at the end to review your answers.

How much working time you spend on each section  should be dependent on how much it is worth, or weighted – e.g. A section with 40% should have 40% of your time.

In reviewing your answers at the end be sure to check  punctuation, grammar and fluency of response.

Read exam questions carefully

Under stressful exam conditions, you may be tempted to skim over the question quickly.

Take your time to read the question to avoid misunderstanding, misreading or simply missing a vital part of the question. To make sure you know exactly what you are being asked.

Tips to beat exam anxiety

No matter how prepared you are for an exam, it’s hard to avoid some anxiety.

Here are seven scientific tips from ASAPThought to help you beat exam anxiety.

Go further

See tips for studying, referencing, assignments and more