Exams can be stressful. However, being prepared can help manage your stress better. It will also allow you to perform your best. You can try many study techniques and go through some handy resources that are available online. This will ensure you get the most of your study time. 

Here are a few of our tips that will prepare you for your upcoming exams. 

The exam period is a time when stress levels are higher than usual. Stress can be positive, helping you to stay motivated and focused. On the other hand, too much stress can have a negative effect. It can make you feel overwhelmed, confused, exhausted, and edgy. 
 
It's important to try and keep things in perspective and find ways of reducing stress if things seem to be getting out of hand. 
 
7 Top Pointers for Staying Sane 

The time that you invest in these activities will result in better-quality study. 

  • Keep in touch with your friends and family, even if it means brief calls, text messages or a quick chat online. 
  • Exercise regularly and continue to pursue your interests and hobbies. 
  • Follow a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Stay away from excess sugar and caffeine.   
  • Stick to a good sleep routine. Most adults need at least seven to eight hours. Limit caffeinated drinks like coffee and Red Bull. Always avoid pulling all-nighters, especially before exams. 
  • Don’t experiment with chemicals like NoDoz, Valium or betablockers. It may go horribly wrong and during exams is not the best time to try something new. 
  • Take time out from your study routine to relax. You need to recharge so you can stay focused over several weeks rather than crash too early. Think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint. 
  • Relaxation exercises like slow breathing and picturing yourself in an inviting environment can help reduce your stress. 

Your study environment can play a significant role in how successfully you’ll learn and retain the information. Here’s how you can ensure an efficient and well-planned study environment. 

Organise Your Study Space 

Good study areas can make a huge difference to how well you learn. Study in a well-lit and quiet area, preferably away from people and any disturbances. If this is impossible, it may be better to study at the library. Ensure your desk is tidy and organised; this will help you concentrate on studying and learning rather than trying to find information. 

Form Study Groups 

A study group can be a helpful way to revise your notes and work through past exam questions. It can also help you feel supported and concentrate better. If you have questions about your work, a study group may be a good place to have them answered. However, pick the right study buddies, otherwise they may end up distracting you. 

Head to UNSW Library 

The UNSW library is open until midnight during exams. It stays open as a study hall with access available to the computers and study rooms. The help zone staff are available from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. You can also ask us a question at any time and from anywhere. 

Everyone has their own study techniques that work for them. You’ll need to select the ones that are the most suitable to you. Here are a few of our top picks for getting the most out of your study time. 

  • Figure out when you study most effectively and schedule times that suit your personal rhythms. 
  • Take regular breaks. Getting up, moving around and away from your desk at least every 50 minutes for 10 minutes will make you concentrate and learn better. 
  • Ideally you should begin studying about four weeks before your exams. 
  • If you’re having trouble developing a study routine or need help with understanding subjects or a topic, your teacher or tutor can help. Asking for help doesn't mean you're a failure. It's smart to tap into their experience and knowledge to help you perform better. 
  • Make a revision timetable. Block in study times and plan what you’ll study during each session. 
  • Prior to each study session, make a to-do list. Breaking tasks down into small and manageable ones will make it less over-whelming. Cross them off as you go. Deciding what to complete in a session will help you keep track of what you’re studying. 
  • Spend more time studying the subjects you find most difficult. Schedule these first. 
  • Organise your material. Make sure you have a complete set of lecture and tutorial notes for each course. If you’ve missed lectures, borrow copies of the notes from another student. Once you’ve organised all your material, you can study by topic. 
  • Create a wallpaper. Write down key concepts you must learn on small sheets of paper followed by examples of how they’re used. Post these sheets around your house, for example, your bed, the toilet door – all the places where you’re likely to see them often. It helps with remembering things like equations, quotes and foreign languages. 
  • Revise and learn, don’t just re-read. Sometimes simply reading through notes doesn’t result in learning or understanding. Try to summarise what you’ve learnt or teach someone else. 
  • Look at the wording of the questions and familiarise yourself with the clue words. 
  • Review past exam papers. Work through them and look at how they fit into the course. Practice doing the papers under exam conditions and carefully review your answers. 

Past Exam Papers 

Some lecturers provide the UNSW Library with copies of past exam papers. These can be found by entering the course code into the catalogue. Please note that the library does not automatically receive copies of all past exam papers. 

Managing your time well let you complete more in a shorter duration, lower your stress, and help prepare well for your exams. 

Avoid Procrastination 

Procrastination is when you do everything else except the task you need to complete. It’s normal to procrastinate a little. However, too much procrastination will add to your stress. It can result in you not giving yourself enough time to prepare. You need to manage your time and set realistic goals for each study session. It will help avoid procrastination and make tasks seem less overwhelming. 

Make a Study Timetable 

Write down all the things you need to do and the time you need for each during the week. Include activities like enough sleep, relaxation, exercise, and more. Find out the date of each exam and work out a study timetable leading up to them. Include tests that will help you identify gaps in your knowledge. This can give you some direction and help you focus on what to study each week or day. 

Switch Phone off 

Calls, texts, emails, and social media can be a major distraction. It might help to turn your phone off or turn on Do Not Disturb while you’re in your study session. 

You need to be calm and relaxed on the day of your exam. Here are a few tips that will ensure you can sit your exam confidently. 

  • Confirm the exam date, time, and location in advance. Make sure you know how to get to the exam location in good time. 
  • Avoid late-night cramming and too many Red Bulls. Get a good night’s sleep and eat breakfast, lunch or have a snack. You’ll work better if you’re well-rested and nourished. 
  • Make sure that you have all the necessary equipment. Pack a bag the night before. 
  • Avoid ‘panic talk’ with other students about how little study you’ve all done or how hard the exam will be. This will only stress you out more. 
  • Remember to breathe and check out our guide to surviving exams.  

Exam Resources

Here are a range of handy resources and guides that will help you during your exams. 

UNSW’s Learning Centre has further resources to help you develop and refine your academic skills. 

The right skills and strategies for study, assignments, exams, and research is crucial to your success at university exams. Here are a range of resources that will help you achieve your goals. 

Answering essay test questions in your exams requires a good amount of practice before it can become easier. Here are some strategies that can help you write better responses. 

For more information on how to successfully study for exams, go to the following links: