Planning for Tests and Exams

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This Skill is designed to help you study more effectively and to approach your tests and exams with increased confidence. It covers key skills and strategies for you to follow, with activities, tips, and downloaded resources to help you sharpen your approach and feel in control.

In “Getting Organized,” you’ll find practical tips and advice for maximizing whatever time you have available to study for your test or exam. You’ll explore different types of test and exams so that you’ll know exactly what to expect and can start to think about the best approaches for each particular type of task. In that section, you can also explore your own preferences when it comes to types of assessment and approaches to studying. By reflecting on how you’ve worked in the past, you can identify approaches to develop and bad habits to get out of, leading you to have more confidence in the process and in the effectiveness of your study.

In “Studying for Tests and Exams,” you’ll find advice, information, and resources to help you study on your own and with other people, as well as exploring some of the advantages and pitfalls of each of these two approaches. You’ll also find advice on different approaches to studying. One common cause of poor performance on tests and exams is the use of less effective or unsuitable study techniques, so here you’ll be able to assess the effectiveness of your techniques. Once you have these more effective approaches in place, it’s just a case of staying focused—you’ll find some tips and tricks for that here too.

In “Taking the Test or Exam,” we’ll turn our attention to the big day itself. Have you ever felt you’ve studied really effectively but then not done yourself justice? Maybe nerves get in the way, or perhaps you just struggle to convert all that good studying into effective execution. Whatever the case, this section will help. You’ll explore how to keep the nerves to a minimum and stay in control as the start time approaches. You’ll also think about your tactics for the test or exam itself. Working to some kind of plan reduces the stress by placing you in control of the task, rather than the other way around. You’ll find out how to do that here.

We also look beyond the test or exam to think about next steps. Taking stock of the process and using that to refine your future approach is a valuable exercise, allowing you to prepare ever more effectively for future assessments of this type. And even if the worst happens, and you don’t manage to pass the test or exam this time, there are still things to take from the experience. We’ll explore what to do in such situations so that when the next opportunity comes around, you’re ready.

Tests and exams are challenging situations, but we’re sure that by equipping yourself with the advice and tools in this Skill, you’ll start to approach these challenges with increasing confidence and success.

Suggested Readings
Anderson, L., & Spark, G. (2020). Pass your exam. SAGE.
Becker, L., Becker, F., & Becker, A. (2022). Acing online assessment. Your guide to success. SAGE.
McMillan, K., & Weyers, J. (2021). The study skills book. Your essential guide to university success (
4th ed.
). Pearson.
Piscitelli, S. (2014). Study skills. Do I really need this stuff? (
3rd ed.
). Pearson.
University of Dundee academic skills for students.