Getting over that final hurdle : Exam Prep

It’s that time of year again, when the end of the year is so close you can almost touch it, but before you can really relax, you have to deal with the dreaded final exams. We wouldn’t blame you if you felt like doing this:

But before you do, remember that the end is in sight, and before you know it, you’ll be kicking back on the beach, exams a distant memory. Here are a few hints for avoiding stress and getting through the final weeks of semester.

The easiest way to avoid (or manage) stress in these final weeks is to have a study plan and gather all the important information (such as date, time & location of your exam) as soon as possible so that it doesn’t cause unnecessary panic the night before or the morning of.

Some study tips to help you prepare in the days and weeks before your exam include:

  • Take advantage of the revision questions at the end of chapters in your textbook (if available);
  • Be active, not passive. Avoid just reading over your notes or textbook – highlight, underline, rewrite or create concept maps instead;
  • Revise regularly, not just a couple of days or the day before. The more you revise, the easier it becomes to remember;
  • Make mnemonics (words or sentences to help you remember), charts or flash cards;
  • Eliminate distractions;
  • Chunk your time, and take regular breaks;
  • Write your own exam questions and swap them with a friend.

On the day of your exam:

  • Get to your exam early, and ensure you’ve got the right materials with you, including your student card;
  • Use any perusal time to identify questions you can answer easily and answer these first;
  • Read all questions at least twice;
  • Leave plenty of time to review at the end.

If you’ve run out of time to do much of the above, you might like to check out this structured approach to cramming.

Finding it difficult to get motivated? Try these handy hints from Counselling about overcoming procrastination.

And check out Studywell for tips about preparing for different types of exams, including multiple choice, short answer, and essay.

Referencing a Chapter in an Edited Book

You might have noticed that some of your textbooks, particularly the bigger ones, will have an editor, or editors, and different authors for each of the chapters or sections. When it comes to referencing these, you need to put the chapter author in your in-text citation, but both the editor(s) & the chapter author(s) in your reference list.

For example:

QUT APA: Honan, E. (2010) Literacies. In D. Pendergast & N. Bahr (Eds.) Teaching middle years: Rethinking curriculum, pedagogy and assessment (2nd Ed.) (pp.139-154). Crows Nest NSW.: Allen & Unwin.
QUT Harvard: Honan, E. 2010. “Literacies.” In Teaching middle years: Rethinking curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. 2nd ed. edited by Donna Pendergast & Nan Bahr, 139-154. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

How to know if the book is edited or not? The editors are usually clearly identified on the front cover and title pages. You can also check the table of contents to see if different authors are listed for different chapters.

There is a specific example in CiteWrite for referencing a chapter in an edited book. This can be found in the Book tab.

Things to remember:

  • If the editors and authors of a particular chapter are the same, use the name twice;
  • If you use different chapters from the same book, treat them as separate sources, and list them separately in your Reference List;
  • You only need to use this format if the particular chapter is written by (a) different author(s). If the book has the one author, or multiple authors, but not for each chapter, just reference it as a book, even if you’ve only used information from one specific chapter – page numbers should point your reader to the information.

As always, check CiteWrite first, and if you’re still in doubt, ask at the Library’s Learning & Research Desk.

Essay Structure – Getting it Right

There are many things to think about when you begin to write your assignment: you need to answer the question, you need to make sure you’ve got the right content, and of course, that pesky referencing needs to be spot on.

But something else that is equally, if not more, essential is to any good quality academic essay is the structure. Your essay or assignment needs to follow a logical structure, with well-developed paragraphs that are clearly organized and flow on from one another in an easy-to-understand manner.

In essence, the basic structure for an essay is shaped like a diamond, and has an Introduction, Body & Conclusion.

An Introduction :

  • Introduces the topic
  • States the thesis (main point of the assignment)
  • Outlines the structure of the assignment (main point of each body paragraph / section
  • Defines the scope (limits) of the assignment

Body paragraphs can be treated as mini-essays, and should only contain a single idea or theme. Each body paragraph should have the following elements:

  • Topic sentence – States the main point of the paragraph and links it with the thesis.
  • Supporting sentences – May add information to the main point.  For example, define terms or explain concepts
  • Evidence sentences – Examples, data, statistics, quotes which back up the point.  These must be cited and referenced
  • Concluding sentence – Restates the point and provides a link to the next paragraph.

A Conclusion:

  • Paraphrases the thesis
  • Sums up the main points of the body paragraphs
  • Does not include any new material
  • Concludes strongly

While the exact layout and structure of your essay may vary depending on what type of essay you are being asked to write, the structure will generally always remain consistent. For examples of different types of essays, check out CiteWrite.

Don’t forget to visit Studywell for more information about essay structure and academic writing and if in doubt, come and ask us at the Learning & Research Desk.

Academic Skills Advisors

QUT Library provides any number of different avenues for study support and assistance that all QUT students have access to, including the Learning & Research Desks and Study Solutions.

Academic Skills Advisors are one of these avenues, and provide more specialized and individualized support for students who are struggling with their study. They can assist with a range of academic skills including:
  • Time management and task planning
  • Notetaking and managing information
  • Reading and comprehension
  • Academic writing
  • Working in teams
  • Exam prep
  • Academic integrity & referencing

If you think you might benefit from a bit of extra help with your assignments, or have any other study issue, and would like to make an appointment with the Academic Skills Advisor at Caboolture, please talk to your lecturer or tutor, or come and have a chat with Caboolture Library staff.

And don’t forget to check out Studywell, the Library’s online suite of study and learning resources!Remember, you can still take advantage of QUT Library’s other support services, like Study Solutions and the Learning & Research Desk, at any time.

Tricky Referencing #1

Author quoted in another work (Secondary Source):

Ever come across a really great quote or piece of information while you’re reading a journal article for your latest assignment, only to find out that the author(s) got it from somewhere else? Want to reference it but not sure how?

The first thing you should do is try and locate the original article or book – find the full reference in the reference list at the end of the article and try searching on the Library Catalogue or Quick Find. If it is a reputable, scholarly, reliable source that is relatively recent, you should be able to locate it. You would generally only want to use a secondary source if the item is out of print, written in a foreign language, or unavailable through usual avenues.

If this is the case, and you really can’t find the information anywhere else, you will need to reference it as a “secondary source”. Essentially, you name the primary author AND cite the secondary author in-text, but only the secondary author in your reference list.

Examples for referencing a secondary source can be located on CiteWrite under the Authors tab.

For example:
In-text: Primary author (as cited in Secondary Author, Year, p. _);                   Reference List: Secondary Author. (Year). Title of Secondary Work. Place of publication: Publisher.

In-text: (primary author quoted in secondary author, date, pg no.);                  Reference List: Secondary author. Year. Title of secondary source. Place of publication: Publisher.

Top Tips for referencing a Secondary Source:

  1. Always see if the original source is available first and read it – it is possible that the information or quote has been taken out of context or re-worded to suit the secondary author’s argument;
  2. Don’t reference the original source if you haven’t actually read it – putting a source in your reference list when you haven’t actually used it in your assignment can constitute plagiarism and can result in losing valuable marks;
  3. Use secondary source references sparingly – for example, if the resource is out of print, or written in a foreign language, and if the information is unavailable anywhere else.

Don’t forget! CiteWrite should be your first stop for any referencing queries. If you’re still in doubt, come and ask at the Learning & Research Desk @ the Library.

Need some help with maths or stats?

Struggling with statistics? Finding that core maths unit or clinical prac a bit of a headache? Then you might like to take advantage of the great services & support that the QUT Maths Access Centre (QUTMAC) has to offer.

QUTMAC provides support in numeracy, mathematics and statistics across all disciplines, including nursing and education.  You can access generic and faculty-specific resources and worksheets online via the Blackboard site, or if you’d prefer some more hands-on assistance, drop-in sessions are available on all campuses.

Johnny Thew will be at the Caboolture library every Monday between 11am and 5pm if you would like to drop in for some help. He is also available on Thursdays, please email ( by Wednesday afternoon to make an appointment.