So, how were my first university exams?
Ok, so the title is slightly misleading- I still have one exam left. Having done 5/6, however, I thought I’d spend some time talking about my overall experience, the ups and downs of my first exams at university.
I have always found exams to be frightening things. Even when I knew what to expect through copious amounts of mock exams during GCSEs and A-levels, the very thought of them gave me a sense of dread. So, having no practice run, and thus not knowing what to expect, you can imagine how I felt for these exams!
What was the revision process like?
I think the one word to use is ‘thorough’. Don’t get me wrong, I revised endlessly for past exams. But for university exams, I had the realization that actually, if I am not completely comfortable with a topic, it sets me on the wrong course, and makes me far less confident for the exam. Therefore, this year, with topics I have been unsure of, I have not hesitated to contact my lecturers or turn to further resources for information. To make my comprehension of a topic thorough, not only did I make flashcards and write up my notes (as I did in previous years), but I further condensed this information into spider diagrams. Another tactic I have picked up is writing the headings of large topics/theories, and then writing as much as I can about them underneath without looking at my notes.
In previous years, I spent a lot of time in my bedroom revising, as I assumed silence was the best environment to be in. At university, I have revised in public spaces, such as the library, learning grid and oculus (as well as my room). Being in a social setting with background noise often helps me to feel less stressed, which has really helped. I have also revised a lot with course mates, which is not something I have attempted in the past.
I have also paid much more attention to what is best for me in terms of the length of time I should be revising for. Some days I can work a full day, others I am simply too tired which makes revising quite stressful, so I only revise for a short period of time. This way, I still get enough revision done, and in a more productive way!
What was good about the exams?
In terms of the actual exams, I found the content to be tailored closely to course material. During previous examinations, there was often a chance that you’d be caught out, with a topic that didn’t seem to link that closely to what you had been taught in class. It came as a relief when this didn’t seem to happen. Also, I had a chance to express my opinions, which has not been focused on much in past exams. In these university exams, I also had a lot of choice. I got to choose from a range of questions in some cases, which I felt was really beneficial, as naturally, I prefer some topics over others.
What wasn’t so good?
I suppose my main ‘negative’ point about my first experience of university exams is the step up from A-levels in terms of the level of detail required to access marks. In my subject (English language and Linguistics), I am required to think on a deeper level than base knowledge, incorporating critiques and extra information from readings a lot of the time. This has been challenging yet fulfilling. Another point I’d make is that sometimes I have found myself pushed for time, as my questions are often large essays. I have had to be really careful, checking the clock more regularly than I have done in the past.
Something else I would like to mention, which is not necessarily good or bad is that most of the time, I have left the exam not knowing how well I have done. In the past, I have either felt really good or really bad about it, however, because I have not taken university exams before, I can’t really predict!
So, there’s my brief summary of my first attempt at university exams! Some positives, some negatives, as I expected there would be.