Exam Tips

21 Sep 2022

During your studies, you’re likely to encounter many different types of exams. Use the following tips to help you get ready for exam day.

Preparing for exams

Remember that it takes time to prepare for your exams, so start early. To help you get ready for your exams:

Organise your time

At the beginning of the semester, work out how many exams you have, how many chapters and topics you have to revise and how many days you have to dedicate to revision. Use this information to organise a study schedule. Aim to spend approximately 10 hours studying per week per course, including contact time during the semester.

Set study goals

Break up your study sessions by setting goals for yourself each half hour. Your goals could include:

  • creating a concept map of a chapter of your textbook
  • reading through your lecture notes
  • making flash cards for key definitions.

Give yourself a break

Marathon study sessions aren’t always effective, so give yourself regular breaks. For example, study for 60 minutes then take a 5-10 minute break.

Complete a past exam

Past exams are available for some courses. If they’re available for your course, use them to guide your study strategies and test whether you’ve been learning effectively.

Understand exam requirements

Make sure you’re aware of your exam requirements, including:

  • what is and isn’t allowed in the exam room
  • when you need to arrive.

On the day, remember to listen carefully to the exam supervisor’s instructions.

Preparing for online exams

If you have an online exam , read the CUC Maranoa’s resources on ProctorU exam instructions. Do this well before the exam.

Completing an exam

To help you do well in your exam:

Read before you write

Read each question carefully to make sure you understand what it’s asking you to do. To help you to focus on the most important points, underline all key terms.

Try to read the entire exam before you start to write your answers. This can help you identify which questions you will find easiest to answer, and may also give you clues for answers elsewhere in the exam. Answer the easy questions first.

Remember, there is no extra 10-minute reading time for online examinations like there is usually for on-campus, paper-based examinations. Your reading time is included in the specified exam duration.

Allocate your time

Take note of the way marks are assigned for each question and allocate your time accordingly – note the questions worth the most marks or which will require the most detailed answers.

Answer every question

Try to answer every question on the sheet, except anything you aren’t required to. Remember, even if you don’t get the answer completely correct, you may still be able to get some partial marks. When you hand in your exam, remember to hand in your rough work as well.

Give yourself a break

If you find yourself feeling stressed, pause for a moment to collect yourself and remind yourself that you can do this.

When you have finished your answers, take a break (if you have time) then check your work for any errors or questions you may have missed.

Evidence your progress

If you are taking an online exam we recommend that you save your work and take timestamped photos or screenshots of your progress regularly. Note: you will not be able to take screenshots or photos during a ProctorU or Examplify exam, so saving your work is especially important.

Your evidence should include, where possible, your name or student number as it will be referenced if you are unable to complete your exam, or if you submit your exam late due to technical difficulties.

Try to save your work or take a screenshot after you have completed each question or section. You can copy and paste your screenshots into a Word document. The links below provide instructions for taking a screenshot:

Strategies for Different Exam Types

Multiple Choice Exams

Multiple choice exams require you to analyse content and apply your knowledge to identify correct answers. This tests your:

  • critical thinking
  • problem-solving skills
  • judgement.

Strategies for preparing

Multiple choice exams require you to have a broad understanding of course content, so aim to revise key concepts as you progress through the semester.

As you study your notes and readings:

  • make lists or tables of information
  • highlight key information
  • review your notes regularly.

In the exam

Answer the questions in order

This will ensure that you don’t confuse yourself and fill in the wrong answer bubble for the wrong question on your answer sheet.

Try to answer before you read options

If you’re sure an answer is correct, choose it before reading all the options. This will ensure that you are not distracted by any of the other options.

Eliminate the obvious

Remove options to help make your choice easier. Ask yourself:

  • Which of the options is the most accurate?
  • Are all parts of the question true?

Use these questions to help you to eliminate the answers that are obviously incorrect.

Short Answer Exams

Short answer exams are designed to:

  • test your recall of course content
  • allow you to demonstrate your understanding of this content.

Strategies for preparing

Review the course profile

Review your course profile to give yourself an understanding of the course objectives and the key concepts of the course.

Look for themes

Review your lecture notes regularly to keep key concepts and ideas fresh in your mind. Watch out for themes that recur throughout the course and organise your notes around these.

Be an active learner

Instead of only reading your notes, try to incorporate other study activities into your learning. Try:

  • answering chapter questions
  • explaining the concepts to others
  • summarising main points from chapters
  • creating concept maps or tables of information.

In the exam

Use keywords from the question in your answer – this will help you focus on answering what is being asked.

Avoid writing everything you know about the topic. Instead, look at what has been asked of you and make sure you answer the question. Try to be clear and concise in your answers.

Essay Exams

As well as recalling and applying knowledge, essay exams require you to demonstrate your analytical skills. You’ll be expected to explain key concepts and use these concepts to interpret, make connections and identify comparisons to support your argument.

Strategies for preparing

Revise key concepts and ideas

You’ll likely be asked to understand and critique the key concepts that were covered in your lectures and tutorials. Begin your study by anticipating what essay questions will be included and use these to prepare a study sheet. To determine the key concepts that may be essay questions, look at:

  • your course profiles and study guides
  • the concepts and ideas that were discussed in your coursework
  • major headings or end of chapter questions in your textbooks
  • lecture notes and tutorial questions.

Practise and plan

Once you’ve decided on the key concepts, use this information to prepare a study sheet. Create some practice questions and use your study sheet to plan out how you will answer these.

Planning out how you will answer your essay questions will help you to remember key ideas and structure your essay.

In the exam

Read the questions more than once

It can help to read the questions at least twice. This will allow you to identify:

  • what is expected
  • if you have to answer all the questions or only some.

Plan before you write

Spend a few minutes gathering your thoughts before writing and come up with a plan. This will help you to find the most effective way to present your argument and will ensure that you cover all the necessary components.

Be clear and structured

Your essay must be clear and follow a logical structure. For advice on how to do this, see our general advice on structuring essays.

Open Book Exams

Open book exams test how well you understand key concepts, rather than how well you remember them. During the exam, you’ll need to be able to find any additional information you need quickly.

Strategies for preparing

Treat it like a closed book exam

Don’t go into the exam thinking that you can look up everything you need to know. Make sure you have a good understanding of the key ideas and themes for the course so you don’t have to spend unnecessary time in the exam reading.

Mark important information

To help you to find information quickly, prepare your allowed texts by using post-it notes to mark key chapters. Highlight keywords and phrases, and annotate key areas within your textbook.

Create a concept map

Rather than scanning through text, create a concept map of the chapter to give yourself a snapshot of what the chapter covers.

Take Home Exams

Take home exams test your ability to:

  • find relevant information
  • understand and analyse concepts
  • apply knowledge
  • think critically.

Strategies for preparing

Develop a plan

Create a schedule for your exam, and break your task into smaller, manageable pieces. Make sure you analyse the topic, read through resources, and draft any work you’re able to beforehand. ​

Read task requirements

Read the task sheet carefully. Check to see if the course readings are enough, or if you will need to reference additional work.

Add Comment



The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.


There are currently no comments, be the first to leave one