Exam Study Tips

Stressed about an upcoming exam? Take a look at these exam study tips written by our Uganda Team Leader, Ena!

One Month Before Exam

  • Make a study schedule. Will you study one or more subjects a day? How will you alternate study days? Keep to your schedule, but don’t forget to also have some time for yourself as well.
  • Organise your study space. It’s best to study in the same space, and make sure it’s neat and tidy so you can find information quickly.
  • Find a study group. It’s much more fun and motivating to study with your friends. Just make sure that you are actually studying and staying on topic. Have someone that’s the “study police” and will call you out every time you go off topic. Rotate this role around every day.
  • Organise your study notes. It’s best to have one page of A4 per topic when you begin to study. Each group member should do this on their own. Write everything that is important about a certain topic (not subject!) on one single page of A4 and then compare it with the group. You might have caught something that the other people missed, or vice versa. It can also lead to a good debate about points that the group members disagree on.
  • Use diagrams and pictures where appropriate
  • Make sure you are eating good brain food (nuts, seeds, yoghurt, bananas, blueberries, fish). It is best to avoid unhealthy food because it often makes you feel sluggish.

One Week Before Exam

  • Condense your notes to a couple of key sentences per topic.
  • Quiz each other on the topics.
  • Make sure you see your lecturer if anything is still unclear at this point.
  • Do practice exams. If you don’t have any provided by your lecturer or the school, make some up yourselves.
  • Pretend to be a teacher and an expert on that topic and teach it to one of your group members.
  • Remember to take regular breaks between study sessions. Even if it’s just a walk outside, a stretch, a cup of tea. Switch off for 15 minutes every hour. Make sure you give yourself enough time to have lunch during the day.
  • Drink lots of water and make sure you are still eating healthy food.

Three Days Before Exam

  • Focus on only one or two topics if possible. If you have two or three days space between exams, ideally focus on just one or two topics for those days right before the exam.
  • Try and use key terminology in everyday life.
  • In your study groups, come up with simulations and case studies for the theory
  • Rank the topics in each subject by how important they are. Chances are you know some topics are more likely to come up than others.
  • Study the format of the exam. Know what the different sections are, and how many questions you have to answer in each section. Make a strategy for exam day, decide how many minutes per question you will allow yourself.

Night Before Exam

  • Breathe, relax, and go to bed early!
  • Watch a movie, read a book, do your laundry. Leave your notes for tonight, you don’t need them.
  • Make sure you set your alarm well ahead of time. If you tend to oversleep your alarm, ask a friend or family member to wake you up on time.

Morning/ Day of Exam

  • Wake up early enough so you don’t have to rush.
  • Have a good breakfast.
  • Make sure you are comfortable.
  • Leave plenty of time to get to your exam venue. Things happen and exam locations can change, so make sure you are giving yourself time to find out about the change and be at the correct location early.
  • Avoid people who are panicking. This will only add to your stress levels. It’s okay to be nervous but you have worked hard.
  • Go to the toilet before the exam starts. You have limited time to write your exam and if possible, avoid using any of that time to go to the bathroom.

During Exam

  • Make sure you have at least two pens, and a pencil.
  • Bring all necessary documents that your university asks of you for the exam (e.g. matriculation card, national ID).
  • Bring a clear water bottle if permitted. The key to your brain working properly is that it is well hydrated.
  • Make sure you dress in layers if you don’t know the conditions of your exam room. You can always take a layer off if too warm.
  • Read all questions before answering.
  • Divide the allotted time per question, and stick to it!
  • Allow 10 minutes at the end of the exam to proofread your answers.
  • Make sure all the forms that come with the exam paper are filled out correctly, your name spelled correctly and written clearly.
  • Make sure your phone is turned off. Not silent, not vibrate. Fully off. You don’t want to be accused of cheating.
  • Use the first page of your answer booklet, or scrap paper if they provide you with some to just do a brain dump. Write down everything you know about the subject in short notes. Write down any relevant dates, names and places. Don’t spend more than 5 minutes doing this. Use it as your permitted cheat sheet.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the examiner for clarification. They may not be able to answer your question but it’s better to ask anyway.
  • Start with the questions you are sure about and you know how to answer, then progress to the ones that are more challenging.

Good luck and happy studying!


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