There's only a few singular loaded words that can strike fear in a student's heart. Let's see, there's 'deadline'. Then, there's 'paid' and 'parking', which combined, will make you regret ever asking a student driver about parking at USC.
Nope, today we’re going to talk about exams. Not every student at university has gone through exams, but a lot of us have been through something similar at high school. What do you remember about them? Scribbling notes on your palm? Or maybe you went hard-core and got them tattooed on your eyelids? Whatever your mode of recalling information was, at university, you might need to ramp it up a little because exams can be stressful. But, never fear, there are ways to go about tackling them without resorting to intense psychotherapy and Valium.
For 22-year-old criminology student Cody Smith, he’s pretty chill about preparing for exams, but it wasn’t always that way. “I wasn’t a good student at 18,” he admits. “I let myself go and relied on my natural ability to recall information, and got into trouble because of it.”
Having only been exposed to exams in his small-town school in Gayndah, he didn’t prepare much before his first exam at university.
“I was out at uni night until 3am and then had to get up at 8am for the exam,” he recalls. He didn’t do so well. Now he’s in his final year, he’s a bit more sensible and recommends another approach.
“Wear comfortable clothes, have a big hot breakfast beforehand and don’t go in stressed. It’s harder than high school, so bring in notes and textbooks if you can. Don’t cram. And group study sessions usually don’t work because they usually just end up in a gossiping sesh at Good Bean. Instead, I read a chapter of my textbook per week. And I watch a movie or do something relaxing the night before so I’m not stressed in the morning.”
Orestes Rousmeliotis, 30, started in 2010 studying Tertiary Preparation Pathways and is today a post-grad history student. He does fairly well nowadays but, like Cody, it took a few exams for him to find his feet.
“In my first exam, in the gymnasium, I didn’t hear them say we couldn’t turn over our papers and I turned mine over early,” he says. “The monitors took it away for what felt like ten minutes but finally gave it back to me.”
If you’re a newbie, the gymnasium, also where some people actually do exercise, is where most of the exams are held at the end of each semester. It’s a large arena that can be a little bit daunting.
“You get the feeling everyone is stressed,” says Orestes. “Try and study course work that is likely to be on the assessment. You generally won’t get surprise questions on your exam.”
There are allocations for students who have disabilities or feel like it’s too much.
“It’s not a copout to say you have depression or anxiety or whatever,” says Orestes. “Focus on being mindful and your breathing.”
So folks, the hard truth is university requires work. My own personal experience tells me that turning up to lectures and tutorials gives you the best chance at succeeding. Not only do you get to find out exactly what you should be learning, but if you only rock up on week 13 for your exam after sitting at home watching lectures on your laptop, you’re probably going to feel a bit isolated too, as you look at unfamiliar faces getting herded into the hall. So do your readings. Ask your tutor. Drop into a study support session. Talk to Student Central. Oh, and take a shower.
“Make sure you wear deodorant before going in,” laughs Cody. “You’re going to be sitting in close proximity with someone for a couple of hours so make it as pleasant as you can.”
By Lloyd Copper.