I mentioned that I am going to share how I prepare for exams. Next week I have two exams: British History 1485-1603 and European History 1815-1914. We are going to take the exams online and it will be an open book exam. So, in theory it would be easier, but, in practice, is not. I took the mock exams and the first one was not great, I think I would have done better in an offline scenario. I wrote too much and did not allow sufficient time to make a plan. But, the tutors were very helpful and I understand what I need to do to make sure I do better next time. While the grades were not exactly bad, they were not as good as I wanted them to be. Overall, taking the mocks was really good for practice.
How I prepare for exams: Revisions
Planing for the subjects I am preparing for the exam is vital. Hence, this is on display on my wall in the office; the main ideas for each topic I’m revising for exams. Due to the changes with COVID-19, we need to answer only 2 questions instead of 3 for each exam and that is helpful, especially as the libraries were closed and finding the right books for a specific quote was just not possible, as many older books are not digitized.
I listened to many lectures. It happened to attend a lecture in person, in Michaelmas, and now I looked through the lecture handouts, and I listened to them again, if they were uploaded. It was helpful to listen again to a lecture, as when I attended, I was not sure what information I will need for the essay or exam preparation. Of course, there are many new lectures uploaded and I listened to as many as I could, taking notes as I went along.
I looked back on the seminar notes I took and the seminar handouts I was given.
In Hilary I had a study group with two colleagues, in our common room at university. It was great, really helpful, especially as the topics interact with each other. I took some notes during the session and now I looked again over them. We also organized another study group, online, and today we have the third one, just a short recap of all the topics. The last two study groups are online, which is a bit strange, but we do get a lot from them.
Besides all this, I looked back on my essays and some of the research I did for them. I made plans for each topic with the key points and main ideas. Of course, I was sure I wrote all the dates and things like that, even though I know them by heart, considering how many times I’ve seen them in the books I read.
Of course, I read, not only the books I read before, but looked on new ones. As my tutor suggested, I made sure I pick a proper movie for this period, such as the Napleon mini series.
How I prepare for exams: On the day
One of the things that made me flustered when I took the mock was that I was still at home for the exam. So, when I will have the exams, I will make sure that I wear a cute dress. This will help me get into the proper mindset for the exam. I will also apply a bit of make up, just foundation and lipstick.
My exams are in the afternoon, so I’ve decided to make a Body Shop face mask in the morning, just to slow things down and make sure I relax a bit. I will listen to music or a lecture. Also, just before the exam starts, I will take another 10-15 minutes off and have an eye mask, which will help me relax. It’s likely 30 minutes spent relaxing instead of doing revisions will actually help more, as I will be able to concentrate better after that.
Last on the list is coffee. I will make a mix of standard coffee with decaf, so I don’t overdo it with caffeine, as I did during the mock exams. My husband will make sure I’m properly supplied with coffee throughout the whole 4 hours of the exam.
Pretty much this is it from how I prepare for exams, from revisions to what I plan to do on the day.