Reading for exams

Exam preparation
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The end of the semester is approaching and you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by your looming exams. Remember this mantra: “It is never too late for a good decision”. Most students get to this stage in the semester and they are behind in some (if not most) their reading. It is easy to fall behind when you are focussed on getting assignments submitted and keeping up date with lectures. Try not to give yourself a hard time for the work you haven’t done, but to think rationally about what reading you can achieve between now and the exam.

10 steps to get the best exam result possible from where you are now:

  1.  Set a time table for the exam preparation week (28th October to 1st November). Here is a guide: allot 13hrs per subject (1 hr x 13 weeks).
  2. Decide the best use of your time based on the sort of exam you have. E.g. if you have a multiple choice exam, only read what you need to write and answer your own multiple choice questions.
  3. Learn how to skim read. Now is not the time to read everything. Now is the time to read strategically to pass.
  4. Divide each hour of study time into two 25 minute segments.
  5. Decide on a manageable task for each segment beforehand, e.g.,

    Segment 1: Skim-read the PowerPoint slides for Week 3 lecture and write 1-2 pages of notes on what you are confident will be on the exam.

    Segment 2: Skim-read the key reading for Week 3 and write 1-2 pages of notes on what you are confident will be on the exam.

  6. Put the timer on when you read and make notes. Do not get distracted for those 25 minutes.
  7. Get up and move around when you take a break. Stretch. Get a cuppa. Pat the cat. Do some yoga
  8. By the end of the exam preparation week you should have 20-40 pages of notes for each subject. Use these new notes to guide your study until the exam.
  9. Focus your energies on the areas you are most unsure about.
  10. On the day of the exam, write out a single page of notes on the things you absolutely must not forget and memorize these.

Remember: You have a limited amount of time and energy. Use both strategically and let go of perfectionist standards as much as you can.

Like this? Check out these other QUT Library Blog posts on exams

Quick TipsExam ChecklistThe A, B, C, D of Multiple Choice, Exam Study Planner



Academic Skills Adviser @ QUT Library

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