The ultimate student test is, without a doubt, the exams. But they have a reputation too tough for what they really are. If you think about it, every graduate survived university examinations and is alive to tell the tale. I myself have been asked this question many times during our webinars. So here is what came out: how I survived uni exams, and how can you do it!
It is important to understand why exams exist. They are not there to make you suffer (hopefully), but to achieve a certain set of goals: to inform the teacher of your progress, to help you crystallize the knowledge, and to help the institution prove that you are worthy of the title they are providing you with.
Think about it! This is just another bureaucratical step in giving you an official title. So whether you consider exams as an aid to memorize or quite the contrary, you need to be friends with them in order to pass. And there are a couple of tricks to get it over with.
Many students asked us about exams during our webinars
NO, I´M NOT TALKING ABOUT CHEATING
As much as it might sound fun, universities take cheating very seriously. Maybe you or someone you knew did cheat in high-school, but this is not it. Cheating in university exams is considered illegal in many places. Provided that you might already be of legal age, you just cannot risk it. One of the big steps towards maturity is becoming an honest person.
So then, how do you survive university exams? You can check our last blog to see a list of all suggested studying techniques, but here are some tricks.
-“The sneaky summary”-
This is technically not cheating but I am sure teachers would hate it. But I have successfully used it in many occasions: If you are able to summarize all of your content (or the worst part) in a short scheme or summary, you just have to keep that in your mind. But if you still have problems with that, here is what you do: you look at this short checklist until the last minute, then put it away. When you are given the exam papers, you use the last blank paper they give you to very quickly write it down by memory. Even before reading the questions. Then, when you start writing, you have the support of your “cheat sheet”.
Not many people use this technique, but you might find exam papers from previous years, or last year students might remember what the exam was. It is very useful to try to accomplish these “fake exams” at home, with an alarm clock stating the time. This way you can know for sure if you are prepared.
It is also great to make big posters with the content, and stick them behind doors, on the wall or wardrobe doors, windows etc. If you take quick glances at it many times a day, you will reinforce your long-term memory of those and therefore find it easier to remember during the exam itself.
Other important things
Clothing: It is more important than what you think: Being able to strip to a t-shirt if it is too hot or wear a jacket and light scarf if it is too cold is vital for your performance: you are going to be put to the test so don´t let your body draw you back: maybe you are very nervous and feel very hot, or maybe the AC has been cranked up and you start feeling shivers.
Controlling your nerves: This is one of the reasons why many people have a bad performance during exams. The accumulation of stress and sleep deprivation that precedes an exam can break most and ruin an otherwise perfect exam. It is important that, even if you cannot eat and sleep well before an exam, you know how to control your pulse and body reactions. Devote the 15 minutes previous to the exam to breathe slowly. You will realize that when you breathe very deep and slowly, your heart cannot accelerate, and you will find your symptoms reduced. Practice deep breathing and other techniques of nerve control to improve your results.
Write in the comments if you ever used one of these tricks, or if you know any others! Check our upcoming webinar opportunities here, and also check our other blogs in the series “surviving uni” volume one and two!