Combatting Exam Season
Hi everyone, I hope you’re all keeping well and enjoying your Easter break so far! With exams edging nearer and nearer each day, you may be freaking out and reaching a state of panic… but fear not, this blog is designed for you!
My exam experience at Warwick thus far has been slightly more unusual than previous years as I was caught in the midst of the COVID pandemic, meaning all of my exams would be online. This was such a daunting thing for me for several reasons: (a) I hadn’t sat proper external exams since GCSEs as my A-Levels were also cancelled due to COVID; (b) the prospect of online exams was a novel concept, not only to me, but to the majority of the university and teaching staff also. This was majorly worrying to me, because the fact that the academics writing our exams had no experience writing exams to be taken online before was slightly concerning. This meant that the kinds of questions that they asked in exams would be different to previous years as they were obviously aware that students had access to their notes etc. Consequently, it was difficult to know what to expect from the upcoming exams and I didn’t know whether the previous years’ exam papers would be similar or not.
TIPS & ADVICE:
What did put me at ease though, was the fact that everyone was in the same boat and that we were all in it together. My best pieces of advice for preparing for online exams are to have a well-organised set of revision notes and to know where everything is. As mentioned before, the exams are online, so you have the added benefit of utilising any resources you have available to you; don’t lose out on marks for lack of organisation or preparation. What is so important to establish before reaching your exams, is what the best approach is for time-pressured exams. Last year, I made my lecture notes on paper, and subsequently prepared handwritten revision posters, which I found to be hugely beneficial. Highlighting key pieces of information and mechanisms was another bonus as it allowed me to quickly look back and refer to the essential parts in order to answer exam questions. This year (my second year) however, I’ve invested in an iPad, and can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve done. It has allowed me to explore another way of working and making notes, which has given me the opportunity to find out what the best way of working is for me. Making notes on paper in first year worked well for me, but it was more time-consuming, whereas working on an iPad is much more efficient and I can condense my notes and organise it into files, thus I can quickly search up key bits of information when necessary. On top of this, make sure you have a fully functioning laptop/equipment that won’t let you down on the day of your exam. Don’t let technology be the reason you don’t do as well in the exams! My final piece of advice is to know what the most important aspects of each module are, and to focus on these areas and what kinds of questions you could get asked about in the exams. For example, in each of my Chemistry modules, I have a list of things to focus on when revising, i.e. Organic: mechanisms and reaction schemes, Physical: equations etc.
The Chemistry department have been excellent in their efforts to help us prepare for upcoming exams. They schedule revision sessions and lectures to go through topics and modules covered throughout the academic year. In these, we cover concepts that students found difficult to grasp initially, as well as go through previous years’ exam questions. This is a hugely beneficial process because it’s all well and good to do an past paper and make corrections with the given mark scheme, but actually understanding the foundations behind the mistakes is what best prepares you for the exams, and this is what the academics do well during exam season.
MENTAL & PHYSICAL WELL-BEING:
Aside from all the revision stress and preparation, your mental and physical well-being is what’s most important. Ultimately, if you’re not feeling on top of your form, then you won’t perform to the best of your ability. It’s so easy to get caught up in the vicious cycle of working non-stop and revising endlessly for the exams, but this will only affect you negatively in the long-run and cause you to burn out before the exams even begin. Prioritise yourself first – whether that means taking days off revising and going out to see friends, going for walks or just having a me-day. Whatever it may be, make sure to look after yourself during exam season and remember that everyone is in it together, so always reach out to your friends if you need.
I really hope this has been insightful and will benefit you all in your preparations for the lead up to exam season. I urge you all, more than anything, to find the right balance between studying and relaxing.
Stay safe, stay happy & stay healthy. Wishing you all the best of luck for your upcoming exams 🙂