The Knowhow of University Exams!

The semester is nearing the end and another 15 weeks has passed. ‘Where has this semester gone?’ I keep asking myself. It really is scary how time flies. They say time flies when you are having fun…I don’t know if you would call assignments, labs and tutorials fun though. Hmm…I guess all of us university students have things we need to get through to get to the interesting things, like nursing placements and graduating, so that we can become qualified in our field of work. So exams are in three weeks time. Even just saying the word ‘exam’ makes me feel sick in the stomach. I get very nervous for exams, because firstly I want to pass, and secondly because I want to achieve the very best result that I can. 


This is a typical example of how a lot of uni students study for exams…NOT A GOOD IDEA! Cramming for exams is not only stressful, but it is physically impossible to remember 15 weeks’ worth of work in one night. 


Or if you answer this mathematical question like this person did, I can guarantee you will FAIL…but you might make your teachers laugh!

The quote about multiple choice exams: ‘When in doubt; choose C’ is a MYTH!
Do not do this. Instead use a process of elimination: by ruling out the answers that are incorrect and then choosing the answer that you think is most accurate.

I don’t want you all failing your exams, so I cannot stress enough… do not do what some students have done in the above pictures. Now on a more serious note I will tell you all of the best study habits and study preparations that I have learnt that help me stay calm around exam time.

The most important strategy for studying for exams is to choose a suitable study environment. You may have a desk or office room in your home where you are able to study. Make sure that you remove all distractions that may prevent you from studying…and yes this does mean going a few days without Facebook (or at least limiting the amount of time you spend on Facebook around exams). Make sure you take a short break from study every 30 minutes. Go and get a drink of water or eat some chocolate to reward yourself for your hard work. I also find that going outside to get a breath of fresh air always refreshes my mind and helps energise me to get back into study mode.

Another effective approach to studying is listening to lectures a second time or re-writing your lectures and notes. My high-school maths teacher always told me that repetition will get you the results. My high-school teacher was right…repeating something or re-writing something over and over again is the best way to get information to ‘stick’ in your brain. It is painful at the time re-writing your notes…but it is all worth it in the end when you find out that you have passed your subjects for the semester!     

A fun way to study for exams is to study with friends. Find a group of friends and get together to go over the course objectives. It is great to study with friends because you can quiz each other and help explain confusing principles to one another.  Another fun way to remember information is to make up an acronym, rhyme or poem about a particular topic…it is a lot easier to remember something when you can sing it to yourself! I remember when I was little I used to say a poem to remember the planets in our solar system: Mars, Venus, Earth, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (My Very Energetic Ma Just Sat Up Near Pa). It is amazing how I can remember it still to this day…it just goes to show how fun rhymes or poems can help us remember important facts and information. 

The night before your exams it is a really good idea to double check what room your exam is in. Ensure that you have a decent sleep that night.  At least 7-8 hours of sleep is a good amount, so that you are able to function properly the next day and so that you aren’t found yawning in your exams. I always find that on the day of my exams I feel better when I have a quick look back over my notes to refresh my memory. Don’t forget to take into your exam your: student ID, stationary and a water bottle, so that you don’t get thirsty. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths before you start your exam – this always helps me to relax and stay calm in my exams! 

A great resource on the USQ online website is an entire web page dedicated to exam preparation and all the best exam tips. Here is the link for your convenience:

I hope that all of my study tips will help all you awesome university students out there to pass your exams with flying colours. Most of all it is important that you try your absolute hardest and that you believe in yourself and your abilities!


“Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe with you.”

“Believing in yourself is the first secret of success.”


Happy studying and all the best of luck for your exams.  Stay positive, we can do this!!!


The Final Battle: Exam Block

Here it is… exam block… The two-week finale where students university-wide are able to demonstrate the fruits of what they have learned throughout the semester.

For a student, this is the equivalent of the final battle before the end of the movie – the epic fight between Harry Potter and the dark lord Voldemort, the showdown between Spiderman and the Green Goblin, the battle of the Morannon in Lord of the Rings…. See where am I going with this?

When it comes to this time in the semester, stress can be sky high and motivation to study can be at an all-time low. However, this can be overcome with prior preparation and by having the right support networks in place. To avoid the exam block ‘SOS,’ USQ’s student services provide timetables and stress-management fact-sheets to assist and help manage students to over-come exam block anxieties.

It’s brilliant to know you’re supported, especially in this time of the semester. In addition to the fantastic student services support, USQ provide several means for students to get help – whether you study on-campus or via distance education.

One thing I have come to understand through my three years of university study is that each student has their very own unique and individual methods of preparation for exam block. Despite my endless search for the perfect methods of exam study, I have found the following three exam-stress tips provided by the USQ student guild extremely useful in my exam preparation:

  1. Develop effective study habits: Establish a study area, find out as many details as you can about the exam, prior to exam block, and use past exam papers to aid in your preparation. The use of to-do lists and study time-tables are beneficial in planning revision in the lead up to exams. Forming study groups may also be an effective way to collaboratively prepare for an exam.
  2. Keep a routine outside of study: Remember to take regular breaks, eat healthy and drink plenty of water. Despite time being of the essence, students need to maintain a regular sleeping pattern and make time for exercise.
  3. Manage your expectations: Most of all, put your exam into context, be happy with your achievements and know what you are capable of – just like the W. Clement Stone quote, “always aim for the moon, for if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.”

With the light at the end of the tunnel quickly approaching, I wish all students the very best in their exams this semester. For all those reading this post who want to know how I best prepare for my exam block, this video will pretty much cover it (and provide some laughs along the way).

Study Hard, and enjoy the summer break!