Making the grade: top tips from lecturers on exam revision

Our Student Support Guidance Tutor team have spoken to several lecturers to get their top tips on how to revise for your exams.

 

Revision/Exam Preparation 

After each session, ask at least one question about the material you’ve covered and answer at least one question (this is best done in pairs or groups)”. Maths lecturer, School of Computing, Engineering & Mathematics

“Start early: work through your notes and plan a mini exam paper (questions & answers!) for your friends – what would you ask?  How would you answer?  If each in the group takes a topic then the workload is shared.  Then test each other & offer mini prizes for top scores – start by writing/recording a brief overview of what the subject has been about”. Course Leader, Business Studies/Management, Brighton Business School

Don’t revise alone too much.  In small groups with similar ability, you can fill in each other’s blind spots, and if none of you understand something, then you know it is really hard and you can approach the lecturer about it, as a group.  The best method is to divide the topics up, and each give presentations on different parts to the rest of the study group”. Lecturer, School of Computing, Science and Engineering

“My top tip is to go wide before you go narrow – meaning although the temptation is to start memorising, use the time in the run up to the exam period to widen your reading, read those case studies you know are important and are likely to be assessed on, but didn’t get round to.  This will result in a deeper level of analysis and a higher mark”. Senior Law Lecturer, Brighton Business School

Keep a learning log.  You can do this as a diary or as journals in Student Folio, or in an excel spreadsheet.  Identify the highlights of what was learnt that week, what were the issues and hoe you resolved them. Include the information of the resources or web sites used to solve the issues”.
Lecturer, School of Computing, Science and Engineering

Exam Technique

Answer the question and not the question you want to answer and ensure that you check the weighting of the questions”. Course Leader, Business Studies/Management with Finance/HRM/Economics, Brighton Business School

“Remember, in an open book exam even though you have the notes, there will not be enough time to fully understand them during the exam, so make sure you have gone through the course notes and suggested reading before the exam, to make sure you have fully understood them”. Lecturer, School of Computing, Science and Engineering

During exams ensure that you finish the paper.  If you get to five mins over the time you’ve allocated for a question just wrap up quickly and move on”. Senior Law Lecturer, Brighton Business School


Wellbeing/Mental Health

“If you’ve planned to have say a half day off to meet a friend, enjoy it and don’t feel guilty that you should be working!” Senior Law Lecturer, Brighton Business School

“Make sure you take some time off and focus on something good you have achieved that day/week – what it was and how had it happened”.

Course Leader, Business Studies/Management, Brighton Business School

“Success in higher education is not all about academic skills, in order to achieve good results you need good personal skills too. It is no good writing a brilliant essay if you miss the hand-in date and score zero per cent or work hard at your revision and then dry up in the exam hall.  So issues such as time management and handling stress are important, together with a wide range of personal skills”. Senior Lecturer & Principal Lecturer, Brighton Business School

Source: Smale, B., & Fowlie, J. (2015) How to Succeed at University: an essential guide to academic skills, personal development and employability, 2nd ed. London: Sage.

 

Stress/Time-Management

 “Structure your day(s) to suit your most productive output times, break work down into periods, for example,  9-11am writing; 2-4pm reading, etc.”. Lecturer, School of Architecture

“Write a timetable for the week, work out where gaps are and ensure that there is some ‘me’ time.  Put onto the plan your scheduled activities, such as lectures and seminars, and then part time working hours and other commitments and see what’s left – often more than you realise!  Then start to add downtime, family time, shopping, eating, chores, etc., then you can see where additional self-study periods can added.  You should see that there are enough hours in the week and that a uni/work/life balance can be achieved”. Course Leader, Business Studies/Management, Brighton Business School

“Step away from the computer and go for walk every now and then … It works in most instances and can be very useful in relieving creative blocks”. Architecture lecturer

“Write to-do list following the Eisenhower (‘Urgent/Important’) Principle helps you quickly identify the activities that you should focus on and those you should ignore. List your tasks and activities and put each into one of the following categories:

Important & urgent;     Important but not urgent;     Not important but urgent;     Not important & not urgent

Then schedule tasks and activities based on their importance and urgency.       Architecture lecturer

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