Tag Archives: exam preparation

Unexpected exam results? Check out this practical guide

The possibility of failing is an inescapable part of life. Truth is, failing happens, and it happens even to very successful people. Often, what makes the biggest difference is the attitude we take towards failure, and the practical steps we take when it happens. We’ve put together three pieces of advice to help you move forward.

Step one: Deal with the feels

  • be kind to yourself
  • give yourself some time out
  • focus on self-comfort
  • get some exercise or hang out with friends

Step two: Evaluate the situation

  • do some detective work to find out what went wrong
  • determine what you had control over
  • talk to a classmate
  • talk to course staff

Step three: Make a plan of action

  • think about positive next steps to help improve
  • eg, ask questions in classes and tutorials
  • talk with support staff for their advice
  • reframe how you think about failing

Read more about practical steps you can take here. 

Even famous people experience setbacks, check out what Barack Obama encountered early on in his political career.

“I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped. I had been in the state legislature for a long time, I was in the minority party, I wasn’t getting a lot done, and I was away from my family and putting a lot of strain on Michelle. Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn’t what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working…

For him, the solution was to refocus his thoughts away from questions of whether his decision to enter politics was right, and concentrate instead on the work that lay ahead.

…the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I’ve felt stuck, is to remind myself that it’s about the work. Because if you’re worrying about yourself—if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ – then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.” —Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

Study tips to help you prepare for exams

Exams are nearly here! Take a look at the tips below to help you make the most of your study time.

1. Make yourself comfortable
Organise your study space. Make sure you have a comfortable chair, good lighting and a desk clear of distraction. It’s all about the feng shui!

2. Use a study timetable
Work out how much time you will spend on studying for each exam. Keep a to-do list of the different tasks you need to do each day – such as different textbook chapters to read and take notes on.

3. Figure out how you learn best
If you’re a visual learner then things like diagrams, mindmaps, colour coded notes and flashcards may be good learning tools for you.

If you’re a verbal learner it might be effective for you to read your notes aloud, talk to others about what you’ve learned, listen to voice recordings of your notes and use tools like acronyms or rhymes.

4. Go through your notes
Gather your lecture notes and determine what the most important areas of focus are. Review your notes by reading actively – concentrate on what you are reading. Condense your notes and underline/highlight key terms.

5. Make the most of your resources
Use past exam papers for practice. You can get these from the library, or through your lecturer. These allow you to see what questions are typically asked and what is expected of you.

6. Get a study group together
Form a study group so you can revise with others. Try question and answer sessions.

7. Give yourself a break
Study getting a bit intense? Forgotten what fresh air smells like? Take regular breaks, get some exercise, eat well and make sure you get some sleep. Research suggests if you keep moving and eating well you will find it easier to concentrate and retain information.

Academic Skills Centre | Pokapū Pūkenga Ako
For help with revision and exam preparation and stress management check out the Academic Skills Centre.

More information
Read more about coping with exams.
Watch this video for tips on finding your personal learning style.

Your study tips 
We asked for your study tips – here’s what you told us…

“Focus on one thing at a time, this could be one topic, one subject or one paper.” – Anahita, first year engineering student  

“I listen to instrumental music from movies that make me happy while I study.” – Elizabeth, fifth year law and arts student

“50 minutes of study, 10 minutes of doing nothing.” – Ra, first year law and science student

“Make your to do list on your calendar – use Google calendar to block out study time, that way you get a more realistic idea of how long everything is going to take you.” – Verity, second year engineering and arts students

Got a study tip? Share it in the comments section.