Exam top tips

I have just completed my final exams at LJMU as part of my Business Studies degree. Exam season is officially underway at LJMU and being in the midst of exams is stressful. Exams have definitely caused me to have anxiety and doubts throughout my time at University. Having come through the other side, I thought I’d share some top tips that helped me get through it and improve my exam techniques year-on-year. 

Essay plans

Julia HarrisonMost of my exams involved writing essays and in first year I would always run out of time. My lectures would always advise me to draw out essay plans, but I always ignored them, because I thought that it would take too much time away from answering the question. When I started making essay plans, I always found that even though I dedicated around 10 minutes at the beginning of the exam to make it, I always finished on time covering all my key points. This was because the essay plan counteracted the major panic of “what do I write next?” when thinking back to my pages and pages of revision notes. On my final International Marketing exam I revised so much and didn’t make my essay plan and out of panic I didn’t finish the last question. Always make an essay plan, it makes you more calm having a structure to look back at and if you don’t finish, you will still gain marks as it will be clear how you were going to answer the question.

Time management

A major helping hand to me in final year was completing my dissertation early. If you have a dissertation or big piece of coursework, try and at least have a chunk of it completed before exam season starts. In final year, so many people on my course were getting really stressed, trying to juggle pieces of coursework, dissertation and exams. Having my dissertation finished early, meant that I had more time to revise for exams and take the year at a leisurely pace.

Be mindful

In first and second year, I would always overthink during exam season and it would impact my sleep as I would be thinking too deeply about what I needed to do that next day. I started reading about mindfulness and instead of overthinking in the evening, I would write out a list of what I needed to do the next day. Then I would just focus on what was happening in the present moment and not let my mind drift. This helped me in so many ways as I could switch off in the evening by having a plan for the next day to keep me organised and on track. The best thing about it was it helped me get a better night’s sleep.

Watch the news

Keeping up-to-date with the news and current affairs is important as you just don’t know when something that you have seen on the news could be popped into your exam answer as an example. My final exam had a question about Brexit so it made me wish I kept up-to-date with that more as it’s all that’s ever on the news! 

Divide your time equally between subjects

Revise for all your exams equally and prioritise one subject when you are really close to that exam. I would divide my time up equally for each topic, but as one exam got closer I would prioritise that exam making sure I continued to look over my other notes. This is a good method to make sure you don’t end up cramming all your revision for one topic into the day before the exam.

If it all gets too much?

Personally, when stress has got too much for me, I have always talked about how I feel with the people I am closest to for guidance and support. It really makes the difference in making you feel better by getting it off your chest, especially if you are studying for your exams. If you are studying for A-level or University exams, remember that having a good balance is important. So if you have reached your limit revising, do something you enjoy to take your mind off them. One of the things I have fell victim of is social media procrastination when trying to revise, have a detox of technology and it will improve your focus.

LJMU's Student Advice and Wellbeing services run a range of workshops, projects and activities that are designed to improve students’ wellbeing. They also cover coping strategies and techniques to manage some of the stresses and anxieties associated with exams to optimise students' potential to succeed. So rest assured that the University has services available to support you during times when you’re not feeling your best, visit the Health and Wellbeing page to find out LJMU can support you or email the Health and Wellbeing Team at studentengagement@ljmu.ac.uk.

External help

There are national support helplines such as Anxiety UK 03444 775 774, which is a charity that can provide support over the phone (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm) to students when stress becomes overwhelming. If you require specific external support, check out the NHS website for a variety of helplines.


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