How to Prepare for Your Exams

by | May 11, 2022 | Undergraduate | 0 comments

Fanny Bois-Berlioz

Prior to your exams, you may want to adjust your studies and revise in the best way possible to ensure you are in a good position to succeed. Depending on what subject you are studying and what exams you are preparing for, you may want to adapt your revisions and use different techniques.

Essay exams: 

For writing essays, you could prepare very condensed notes that could fit on an A4 page for each subject or topic you might be interrogated on. On this A4 page, you could add:

  • Definitions of certain words you studied
  • Theories and examples of how they are applied
  • Literary devices
  • Typical essay questions that may come upon this subject 

An extension of this tip for writing essays could be to practice by using a timer of 5 to 10 min to make a quick plan of how you would answer an essay question. Using a plan or an outline is essential to help you make a cohesive response. In your plan, write a thesis, a first argument and some evidence, a second argument (counter) with some evidence, and a conclusion. 


Problem-solving exams: 

Usually, for science-based exams or mathematics, the test can vary from problem-solving to multiple-choice questions. For that, I would suggest reviewing each chapter studied in class by making an A4 sheet with key formulas, theories or concepts, definitions, and 2/3 typical examples of how to solve the problem. 

For the revision, it is very important to practice over and over again mathematical concepts and even science ones since there are multiple ways it could be applied or solved. 

Try mock exams or past papers only once or twice a week if you still have a lot of time to revise and once you are confident enough you can do more. Doing too many past papers early on will ruin the opportunity for you to make a lot of mistakes and learn. You won’t have as many past papers to practice with close to the exam day.

For multiple-choice questions, it is often a matter of figuring out very quickly an answer and the options could be very similar to one another. For that, I would suggest making sure you know all the common mistakes in a topic so that you don’t end up wondering between two options for too long. 



Making a timetable with specific times for your revision including breaks will help you have a structure during your day and make it less difficult to study. 

There are many ways you could decide to revise, whether it is with your friends, alone, at the library or at home it is up to you. One thing you should try to have is a routine or some sort of structure in your day. Doing 6-7 hours of revision straight away with no breaks will exhaust you and you will lose focus over time. Usually, 3/4 hours of revision in the morning with a break for lunch and 3/4 hours in the afternoon can ensure that you are being productive. 

Try to only work during the day and be very productive during those times so that you can relax in the evening and do lighter revisions such as just reading notes or watching a documentary on the subject. 


Lifestyle / routine: 

These aspects of exam season are often underestimated, but they have a big impact on the performance of students. Having a good lifestyle and routine the few weeks prior to and during the exam is very important. You can still have fun and treat yourself on your breaks and evening times by watching a movie, going on a walk, doing 1h of exercise a day or stretching, cooking, going to see a movie or a show… these are very low energy activities which will allow you to breathe and do something different. 

Going out for drinks or going to parties on the weekend prior to an exam can make you very tired and reduce your energy levels during the week. Making sure you get at least 7/8h of sleep at night to be more productive. 



On the day of the exam: 

Revising just before an exam is not going to change your performance drastically. You may hear people around you talking about a certain topic or sharing answers and it might confuse you so avoid trying to learn or understand a new concept just before entering the exam room. If you have reviewed all the chapters properly and did enough practice for each you do not need to revise on the day of the exam. 

During the exam try not to panic if you don’t understand a question or if you are stuck. Usually, examiners allow a reading time for you to see all the questions and ask them if you don’t understand something. If you are really struggling with one question just move on to the next one and maybe try to show some process of work for some extra points.