Consider the following statements and click if you feel they apply to you.
1. I am really happy to take examinations
That is good. It is not common, but it is good if you are relaxed about it.
2. I prefer multiple choice questions because generally I like to guess the answers
You need to know your material rather than being able to guess.
3. I am not very good at calculations and prefer essay questions
You need to find out what forms of question you can expect for your examinations – and practise these in advance.
4. I revise for examinations by focusing my time or energy on two or three main topics
Different people will have different strategies for preparing for an examination, but selecting only two or three topics will fail to give you a fuller picture of the content of your modules – and you will be struggling if a question asks you to compare two topics when you have revised only one of these. Focus and concentrate on some, but ensure that you get a decent overview of the modules you are studying for.
5. I am sure I know what topics will come up in my next examination
This relates to the comment above: question-spotting is extremely dangerous and risky.
6. I know how long each of my examinations will last
Good – you should know this in advance.
7. I would never cheat in an examination
Absolutely right! Anyone who cheats is committing a fraud: they are telling an employer that they have knowledge that they do not actually possess. Doing so can carry severe punishments.
8. If I see others cheating in an examination, I will report it to the person in charge of the exam
There are times when you might see other students cheating that the invigilators miss. You have no authority to formally report them, but the individual members of staff looking after the examination (‘invigilation’) might do so if they can collect sufficient evidence.
9. Cheating in an examination is academic misconduct
Yes, it is – and it carries serious penalties.
10. Examinations are all about managing your time
This is one important skill, but not the only one. You will certainly need to manage your time when undertaking revision. In an examination, failing to manage your time well will mean that you don’t finish everything that you need to, but finishing everything ahead of time without demonstrating any knowledge or thinking will not be good either.
11. Open book examinations are much easier than closed book examinations
Open book examinations (where you can take in as much course material as you wish) are deceptive. You can take in as much as you wish, but if you don’t know the material in the first place, then you will not have sufficient time to refer to the notes and books that you have taken into the examination.
12. If I write more in an examination, then I will get a higher mark
Not necessarily. You could make the same irrelevant point several times over several pages but it won’t give you a good mark.
13. In an examination, I need to include citations and a bibliography
You will need to be sure about what the examiners’ expectations are, but yes – you will need to include evidence for the ideas you give, and that could include citations.
14. If there is something in my life which prevents me from doing well, I can just take the examination again
Universities do try to be fair where they can, so if there is something serious (a death in family, serious personal illness) that is likely to affect your performance in an assessment, then universities will usually have processes (see terms such as ‘mitigating circumstances’ or ‘extenuating circumstances’) which will deal with you fairly. However, you will need to give credible evidence to support your claim.
15. Making a plan for any essay is vital if I am going to get a good mark
This is a very good idea. Even if it consists of a series of small notes in a margin, making a plan means that you will be unlikely to miss anything out in your essay, and will be able to provide a good conclusion and introduction.
16. Calculation examinations are easier than essays
This is not necessarily true, but it depends on personal abilities. You need to have a conceptual understanding of what the calculations mean and why you do them the way you do them in order to do well.
17. I know where and when all my examinations are going to take place
Good – you will probably be given a personal examination timetable online before the examinations begin.
18. Examinations which last a shorter period of time are easier than longer ones
Expectations of you as a student will be in accordance with the time you have to complete all that you need to do. Whether something is easier or more difficult will not usually depend on the length of the examination.
19. I always feel anxious before going into an examination
Uncertainty tends to lead to anxiety, so you are almost certainly not alone. The best medicine is always preparation based on learning that has taken place throughout the semester, but if you struggle with the emotional pressure of examinations, then maybe some counselling or relaxation techniques or physical exercise might really help here.
20. I always check past papers to see what topics are going to appear in the examination.
OK, it is good to practise past papers, but as for item 4 beware of trying to spot the questions which might appear.