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Our top 5 tips for preparing for your exams

January 15, 2020

Study Support

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When it comes to preparing for your exams, sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin.

As exam time draws closer and you’re in revision mode, remember these practical tips for exam preparation so you get a strong end result for your units.

#1 Start your revision early (the earlier the better)

It’s important to start revision early so if you need help, you still have time up your sleeve to seek guidance. Start to prepare questions for content you’re not clear about, and get clarification from your tutors or peers. Forming a study group can be an active and efficient way to review content. You can share questions, quiz each other, and test your understanding by explaining a concept to someone else. Check out some of these useful Study support tips for exam preparation.

See the Writing Mentors, or the Maths Mentors for tips on understanding and remembering information, or make an appointment with Language and Learning Advisers (face-to-face on campus, online through Skype or over the phone) for more exam preparation strategies.

If you’re still stuck on subject material, try the discipline specialist tutors on Smarthinking – Deakin’s online tutoring service available 24 hours for students.

#2 Summarise what you’ve learnt

It can be hard to keep track of large amounts of information. A good technique for synthesising information is making summaries – keep notes from each week in your own words (if you haven’t done this through the trimester go back and work through the content). Summaries can be written in full sentences, as dot point cheat sheets, or even verbal (recorded on your phone). Anything that gets you actively recalling what you’re revising will be useful.

Brain dumping can also be effective – this is when you get everything out of your head on to paper. At the end of a long study session, write down everything – key points, questions, areas for further study, any breakthroughs. You’ve just created a handy collection of things you’ve learnt and a starting point for next time.

#3 Be kind to yourself

Study hard and study smart but make time to go for a walk, play with your dog, hang out with family, eat healthy and most importantly get plenty of sleep. 

Introduce relaxation exercises into your daily routine. By practising relaxation you can develop a sufficiently strong relaxation response to counteract the physical symptoms associated with any excessive anxiety (like getting stressed in the exam). Here’s a guide to progressive muscle relaxation you might like to try.

If you need extra support, please reach out to your friends or access support from Student Life – you can get health and wellbeing support from Deakin.

#4 Be prepared

Ensure that you have double (even triple!) checked your exam timetable on Student Connect for the time and venue of your exam. Ensure you know what type of exam you will be doing (multiple choice, short answer etc.). Have all of your exam materials ready. A list of what you can and can not take into the exam can be found on the Current Students website.

#5 It’s normal to be nervous – use it to your advantage 

Everyone gets nervous before an exam. Research indicates that mild levels of anxiety can improve alertness and provide the burst of energy needed to get through demanding situations.

However, too much anxiety can be debilitating. Before going into the exam room, don’t stress about the things you think you do not know.

Focus on the task ahead and have confidence in what you do know. A small amount of anxiety together with confidence is the key – accept your anxiety and don’t let it overwhelm you. Here are some resources on how to do this.


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