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Exam Tips

The purpose of examinations, in my view, is to assess three things:

  • Your understanding of the course material
  • Your ability to apply the course material in addressing a specific question
  • Your wider reading and deeper understanding of the course and related issues

Bearing in mind that exam questions are generally written with this in mind, rather than to catch you out, preparing for your exams is straight-forward. The first thing you need to do is to make sure that you really understand the course materials, this means that you should attend lectures and tutorials and review the materials covered therein as soon as possible after the sessions. If you do not understand something in the lessons you can then quickly check the course textbook and then ask the tutor. You know that to pass the exam your understanding of the course materials will be tested so make sure that once you have understood the materials covered you learn the materials.

Besides learning the materials the other thing you need to master to do well in the exam is applying that learning to specific questions. This means that as part of your exam preparation you should be practising with exam questions. You can check your answers against your class notes and also ask your friends to see whether you have really answered the question.

Finally, and importantly at Master's level, you should demonstrate wider reading in showing your understanding of course material and your ability to apply that to a specific question. I personally like to prepare my class notes, add the notes from my wider reading, and then practise applying the combined materials to possible exam questions. This approach seems to ensure that you develop the skills to recall information and learn to apply that information to specific questions. (Wider reading can also boost your understanding of the issues covered in the course so it's good practice whether it forms part of your exam preparation or not).

Taking this basic approach to your examinations not only makes your life easier but should give you a better chance of passing your exams


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