Everyone has their own study style and some people prefer one way of studying, while others have developed their own methods to suit them. Mine was a three-weeks-per-module semester. The first course ended and the next began until the first semester wrapped up with all four of my courses. But, wait. There were no exams! Christmas and winter vacations commenced soon after and time flew away until the exam week was right ahead on top.
I must tell you that it’s a myth that you will be able to prepare for the exams after the vacations. There’s no way you can prepare well enough if you had been partying all Christmas and extended it to the New Year’s Eve and opened up your eyes to study only a week before your first exam.
‘Start early’. That’s my advice to you. Take one of the toughest subjects and spend some part of your holidays so that you don’t panic when you open your syllabus the last moment and find things you never saw before. Exams are a nightmare. What makes them worse is the long forgotten things you never had the time to revise.
But, the university does things in a smart way and that impresses me. Usually, revision lectures are conducted few days before your actual exams and you never know your instructor might give you a hint of what’s coming in the exam. While that’s pretty optimistic, but there is more. Some exams turn out to be successors to the past papers, often questions repeating like twins to the old exam questions.
Studying in a group is what helped me the most. Solving complex equations and playing with numbers can be time consuming and could be a waste of time if you are stuck on a problem that your teacher has not provided solutions to. So, when in a group, you could consult and check your answers quickly and move on at a faster pace. Conceptual questions can also be handled and if you need time on your own, you could actually study privately.
My recent exams reminded me of my CIE A level exams. The questions were phrased and structured like high school examiners did and it brought back all the good memories of my past. This was different from my Bachelors where I studied the American system and the examination style, variety of questions, layout and structure was always varying from one instructor to another. Having all exams structured with four questions of equal weightage, at least in my case, helped me handle the exams well. A constant style of exam makes you feel comfortable and helps you divide your time well.
However, what really bothered me was finding a study space during the exams week. All study spaces in the Main Library, Learning Commons and all other buildings were fully booked. I had not anticipated how much people study during the exams and it came off as a surprise because many people had been away all vacations and only arrived back from their homes one week before the exams. The crunch time was well-spent all day and night in the library and study spaces. I wasn’t used to such a thing. Perhaps the whole idea of having exams after holidays was a new phenomenon for me. This is the UK style and I’m still ambivalent of whether it helps students or not.
There is finally peace of mind now that exams have finished, but I know for sure how I will prepare for the next semester.