Online Exams: Preparation & Revision Tips – OurWarwick

Online Exams: Preparation & Revision Tips

Aimee Cheung | Psychology with Education Studies Contact Aimee

Thank you to the 5 final year Psych students who shared their brilliant advice! They’ve been integrated into this post 😊

Please bear in mind that every department and each lecturer will have their own expectations. Whilst some of these may be generalisable to your needs, take note of the exam format too – many of these are focused on essay-based and long/ short-answer questions as these are the formats we have generally had experience with in Psychology.

You can find information on the AEP (Alternative Exams Portal here:

  • A department-specific document is currently being prepared so keep an eye out on your emails for this!
  • Check the format of your exams. Most exams in Psychology are either 24 hrs if essay-based or 2 hrs for MCMAQs/ short-answer Qs, but there are a few exceptions, so always double check. You should have received this information for each individual module via module forums on Moodle.
  • Online practise papers have been/ will be released. For example, if you take Individual Differences, we’ll be directed to Moodle for our exam. To help us get used to the format a timed practise run has been put up on Moodle to help familiarise us.
  • Revision classes will take place next term. I cannot urge you enough to go to them and pay attention. They are super helpful. Lecturers will set out what their specific expectations are and this will help you to maintain a better focus on the lead up to exams.
  • Practise essay plans and getting them checked (for the essay-based exams)’. Do take advantage of this. It really helped me to figure out what I was missing in my plans and what I had gotten down. This is great considering we don’t get individualised feedback on actual exam papers.

STILL REVISE, especially for timed exams, because you’re not going to have time to check through everything. Nevertheless, there are some great advantages of  being able to have your notes!

  • Organise your notes clearly: Make your headings clear so that you can easily scan through and find the right section, highlight your key concepts, and make sure your citations can be clearly identified in the case you can’t quite remember who conducted a particular study.
  • Alternatively, someone suggested to ‘Have a cheat sheet for each module and each lecture – summarising what each lecture covered. This should help both with 2 hour and 24 hour exams by cutting down on the time you spend trying to figure out where the info to answer that question would be’.
  • Organise your files! Another student also gave some great advice considering (for most of us) all of our notes are on our devices: ‘It really helped to have my notes all in one place so they were easily accessible. It was also useful to have everything labelled so I could find the relevant information quickly.’
  • Prep answers for potential questions! This really worked to my advantage last year because for essay-based questions, I was actually able to adapt my plans to the essay questions in the exam. This leads very nicely onto the next section where I’ll explain this in more detail…

A piece of advice for 24 hr essay-based exams: ‘Since you don’t need to know the content off by heart – spend more time finding links and common themes amongst lectures, practising essay plans, etc. rather than on revision cards.’

  • Don’t spend time memorising things that you don’t need to! Remember all those times you wondered what point in memorising something was because it’s a waste of time? Take advantage of the open-book format, especially for 24 hr exams, and spend your time on what’s really important rather than memorising minor details of studies.
  • Don’t ignore the learning objectives/ key messages – turn them into questions! If one of them come up and you already have an answer! They tell you the reason why you are learning this material and exactly what you need to take from it. If these haven’t been made clear, ask so that you know how to tackle revision.
  • If you can teach the material to someone else (or even your pet or stuffed teddies) you’ve got it! Teaching out loud is a testament to how much you truly understand the material.
  • Practise, practise, and practise! Do this in time conditions with past exam papers, even with 24 hr exams. This will help you to establish a pace and how much time you will roughly need to spend on each paragraph or section. I know it takes a lot of will power to start doing this, but you will thank yourself for it later!
  • Again, take advantage of getting essay plans checked if the opportunity is open.
  • Maybe set up a revision group with your peers if that’s how you like to work. You can share thoughts and help each other out and gain a deeper understanding of the material by having conversations with others.
  • Get used to the format. You don’t want to waste time faffing around because you havent done this beforehand. Unlike in-person exams, you won’t be writing in booklets. You may be redirected to Moodle, you may be writing on a blank document, or have to download a template to write your anwers in.

A note on referencing for Psychology students. This was something that caught most of us off-guard last year because no one knew we’d be completing exams online when we started the academic year! Keep a note of the full reference of ALL your readings:

  • If you need to provide references in the exam, make sure you know the names and dates of key studies beforehand so you’re not spending forever going through the lecture PowerPoint slides trying to find it.’ – It will save you time if you do this as you’re reading. I have a document of reading organised by topic/ week with the citation, a brief title on what it covers, and extracted information. In a separate document, I’ve got the references for these, organised by topic/ week in the correct format and alphabetical so that no time will be wasted trying to find them.
  • If you really don’t know what you’re doing: You DO. Manipulation isn’t always a great thing, but in this case it is. Convince yourself that you know what you’re talking about even if deep down you know you don’t. That’s my strategy!
  • For Psychology, all of your exam papers will be labelled similarly. Last year this followed the format of: Q[3]_u18xxxxx. You can see how it would be easy to accidentally submit the wrong one. Please check this before you submit by opening the file you’ve attached to AEP to ensure the right document has been uploaded.
  • For 24 hr exams, please go to sleep: Remember that more time does NOT = Better marks. Think of it as when you say a word too many times and it doesn’t even sound like a word anymore.

Some great advice from a peer:

  • For 24 hour exams, remember to take breaks – you have plenty of time so if 5 minutes away from the exam will help do it’.
  • Make sure whoever you live with knows when your 2 hour exams are particularlyso that you’re not interupted.
  • Have snacks on hand, particularly for the 24 hour ones. For the 2 hour ones make sure you’ve cut distractions or risk by eating pretty soon before (=no belly rumbles) and go toilet/etc so you get your full 2 hours.
  •  ‘Remember you can do these 2 hours whenever you want so if you are better later at night, do it then.’ (Other departments have fixed exam times so please check!).

Final reminder: I know it’s difficult trying to make the time and that this academic year has been so full on that it seems like there’s no time to, but please take the time to look after yourself!

We’ve all got this!

Aimee Cheung | Psychology with Education Studies Contact Aimee

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