Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Effective exams

Advice and resources to support you with your exams covering: revision, preparation and sitting your postgraduate exams.

Exams at postgraduate level

Some programmes of study may have exams while others may not - please consult your programme handbook to clarify if you have to take exams.

Exams at taught postgraduate level are an opportunity to demonstrate your insight, knowledge and mastery of your subject. While exams can be daunting, with proper preparation many students come to view exams as an opportunity to consolidate their learning and an enjoyable experience.

Exam preparation – planning for revision

Part of preparing for your exams is considering the time that must be allowed for revision. You should accurately reflect on how long it will take you to comfortably cover revision of your course while taking into consideration your other assignments and commitments. Have a go at assessing your time using our self-assess your revision time form. Ensuring you have allocated enough time for revision will make you feel more prepared for exams.

Self-assess your revision time form (MS Word)

An effective strategy for revision is to break your day down into separate time blocks and allocate specific revision tasks or areas to each time block. Alternating between a few different tasks or topics throughout the day helps you to keep focus by avoiding boredom. You can use our planners (hourly and morning/afternoon/evening) to plan your schedule.

Remember though that it is not effective to study all day; schedule in breaks and other enjoyable non-academic activities to look forward to.

Exam preparation – revision techniques

Part of preparing for exams is using good revision technique. Using effective modes of study for active revision will enhance your learning.

Consider the way in which you study/revise now - is it active? How do you make your study more effective? Have a look at our active revision tips sheet (below) for some ideas for active revision and to reflect on what else you could do.

Active revision tips (MS Word)

Strategies for sitting your exams

Sitting your exams can be a nervous situation even if you have prepared well with revision. Before entering an exam it is useful to consider strategies for sitting exams. Knowing or planning what you will do before a situation occurs, can provide a calm base to proceed from.

Further resources