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Edina Harbinja

on 18 January 2015

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Transcript of Copy of EXAM PREPARATION

Presented by:

Edina Harbinja
University of Hertfordshire


Exam time = most stressful part of the academic year
A lot riding on the outcome
Pressure to perform well

During this class:
some general learning and preparation tips
how to write a law exam
specific examples - topics covered in semester A

• To understand the importance of time management.
• To understand what procrastination is and why people are prone to it.
• To understand the difference between a passive and active approach
to exam preparation.
• To understand the difference between memorizing and
understanding work, with the aim to emphasize that insight and
application are expected of university/tertiary students.
• To understand that a new way of learning may be needed and old
ways may not be sufficient anymore in a university/tertiary setting.
• To learn some practical tips in preparation for exams in the weeks
leading up to the exam.
• To learn some preparation tips for the night before the actual exam.
• To learn some practical guidelines for the day of the exam.
• To gain some insight on how to approach and write
the exam using the DETER strategy.
What are some of your biggest challenges?

What would you like to gain from this class?
University = most exciting time!
Meet new friends, future spouse, business associates and mentors
Fun, carefree moments and extracurricular activities, party with friends
Major subjects and course-related projects demand much attention
Some time management skills are in order!
Easier said than done...
Learn how to prioritize!
Develop a short-term as well as a long-term plan.
Stick to it! don't waste time/money!
Deadlines - work on the more urgent one first.
Passive learning occurs when you
your senses to take in information e.g.
to a lecture,
assignments, or
audiovisual stimuli.
= most common way of learning
1) Can present a great deal of information in a short period of
2) Lecture notes, handouts, and audiovisual media can be
selected and prepared in advance.
3) Controlled environment (lecturers are more comfortable).
4) Good for new faculty members or ones who are teaching
new content.
5) Students most often prefer this approach (they are used to
this method of teaching).
6) Important concepts and content identified a concrete,
organized, and meaningful manner.
7) Students have lower anxiety levels and feel more secure
with this method.
Passive learning
Active learning involves you as the student through
investment of energy

in all three phases of the learning process
(input, operations, and feedback)
. This type of learning is more appropriate to
stimulate higher cognitive processes and critical thinking
1) May increase critical thinking skills in
2) Enables students to show initiative.
3) Involves students by stimulating them
to talk more.
4) Incorporates more student input and
5) Easier to assess student learning.
6) Better meets the needs of students
with varying learning styles.
1) Lecturers need to be the experts in the content
2) May be difficult to organize active learning
3) Requires more time and energy and may be
stressful for lecturers.
4) Lecturers may receive less favorable evaluations
from students.
5) Students may be stressed because of the
necessity to adapt to new ways of learning.
Students are expected to
Record and absorb knowledge
Students are expected to
• Care about their own education
• Learn to monitor and discuss their own learning
• Collaborate with other students to discover and
construct a framework of knowledge that can
be applied to new situations

1. Make a list of everything you have to do.
2. Write a statement of intention.
3. Set realistic goals.
4. Break it down into specific tasks.
5. Make your task meaningful.
6. Promise yourself a reward.
7. Eliminate tasks you never plan to do. Be honest!
8. Estimate the amount of time you think it will take
you to complete a task, then X 100%.

Your brain is not a computer... and you are not a Parrot!

Your brain is made up of billions of neurons connected together.

Many people try to learn by memorizing
the information in a sequence - like a parrot.

We learn best by connecting ideas together into a web
, rather than trying to store them with rote memorization.

What separates memorization from learning is a
sense of meaning
. When you memorize a fact, it's arbitrary (illogical), interchangeable - but when you learn a fact, i
t's bound to others by a web of logic
• Rote learning — memorization
• Word-for-word
• Cannot explain or formulate ideas in own words
• Cannot apply to real life situations
• Cannot see relevance of ideas outside the classroom
• Does not see differences, similarities, and implications

• Interprets ideas literally

• Has difficulty solving problems and thinking critically
• Believes there is one “right” answer for every question
• Understanding — comprehension
• Own words
• Use own words to explain and formulate

• Able to apply ideas to real life situations
• Seeks connections between knowledge from classroom and real world
• Can identify differences, similarities between ideas, and implications of these ideas
• Realizes the figurative as well as literal interpretations of ideas
• Able to solve problems and think critically

• Accepts that there may be more than one “right” answer to a question depending on the circumstances
Two sides of the same coin…

Memorization's defenders are right
: It's a mistake to downplay factual knowledge, as if students could learn to reason critically without any information to reason about.

But memorization's opponents are right, too
: Memorized knowledge isn't half as useful as knowledge that's actually understood.
the text closely, deliberately, and slowly.

Check for understanding
at the end of every sentence fragment, and if in doubt, re-read and think about it until you are certain you understand

on what has been described and ask (“quiz”) yourself the most important questions for understanding:
• What?
• Why?
• How?

4. When you reach an example in the text, do not read through it - first
try to solve it yourself

5. Remember that “thinking you understand the ideas” or the formula is often a very different thing from being able to solve a problem… you must master both before you are ready to take an exam.

6. Stop memorizing, and
focus on describing the problem visually as well as verbally
. Sketch the situation if possible, and annotate the sketch with key facts from the problem.

7. Teach and
explain the topic to someone else
… either in person or by writing out what you would say.
• Spending
more time
on the subject
• Giving yourself
time to identify and reinforce

connections between ideas before you are examined
on them

Practicing recalling
new material by answering
questions you ask yourself

Reducing pre-exam stress/anxiety
by avoiding the
need to “cram” for an exam

Increasing your self-confidence
by mastering
material shortly after it is presented, then confirming
your mastery to yourself over the next few classes
1) Little opportunity to assess how well students
are learning the content.
2) Little time for questions, clarification, or
3) Students may not feel comfortable letting
lecturers know that they do not understand key
concepts, they may be reluctant to ask
questions in class, or they may not ask enough
questions to clarify their misunderstandings.
4) Does not require consistent use of higher-level
cognitive skills (no opportunity for application).
5) May become tedious and boring
Active learning
• "Students are assumed to enter the course with minds like empty vessels or sponges to be filled with knowledge"
• "Traditional class"
• Mostly verbal lectures
• Instructor is "verbal" textbook
• Instructor reads definitions
• Student is a passive "tape recorder"
• On exams, students regurgitate what the instructor tells them
• "A
learning environment
in which the student can learn to restructure
the new information and their prior knowledge into new knowledge
about the content and to practice using it"
• Students
activities during class
• Students need to be
before and after class
• The instructor provides
examples and illustrations
of concepts,
processes and features with the use of visual aids, demonstrations,
etc., integrated into class presentations
• The lecturer
concepts, principles and methods for
• Students practice
applying these skills
to interpretation
• Facts and concepts -
examined and used

• Students develop skills in constructing and using knowledge with the
instructor's guidance
• Various active learning methods, including lecturing


Breathe and do a self-assessment for personal inventory.


“Have I been
persistent enough
to see my plans through to completion?”
“Have I
too much to decrease my efficiency?” and
“Have I dissipated my
energy in unimportant matters
or issues that took up much of my time?”
"I perform better under pressure."

"When I work when not 'in the mood' my to work isn't very good."

In university up to 70 % of students identify themselves as procrastinators.
Strategies for reducing procrastination:
What you can do
Why does this work?

Early start = more time

Reviewing the material after each class.

*By starting early and studying on a regular basis, you will have a better opportunity to absorb the information and life will be a lot easier when it's time to put it all together for the exam.

Organize course material (avoid gaps)

Missed classes? get the notes from your friends right away instead of scrambling at the last minute.

*Proper organization help get a better picture of the amount of material that has to be covered and improve the flow of the study process.
Getting Started

Plans help you study
effectively and minimize stress
Plan and organize your time effectively and find out when
assignments and projects
need to be submitted.
The first step is to figure out
how much time and effort
you must dedicate to studying for the exam by asking the following questions:

How much material
do you need to cover?
• How
is the material?
• How much
is available?
• Do you have any
other priorities
during the study period?
• What is the
of the exam?

How important
is the exam?
• What is your performance
for the exam?

Map out
all of the material that has to be covered
Make a schedule
showing what, when and how much for each day.
IF you are up to date = revision (not learn from new)
Behind? if there isn't enough time to go over everything, you must
decide what is most important
for the exam.
Focus on work that you find
challenging or difficult
and what are deemed important.

Don’t waste time on sections that are not important (listen to your lecturers).
Creating a Study Plan
• Budget your
• Allocate the study time into several
manageable study sessions
• Divide the course material into
small segments
and assign them to the study sessions;
• Set
clear and specific goals
for the study sessions;

to ensure that material weighted more heavily in the exam gets sufficient study time;
• Take into account your
with the material and the

Don't make the study sessions too long
• Study sessions should have enough
in terms of topics and activities to prevent boredom and loss of effectiveness;

Avoid cramming
before the exam; and
• Don't forget to include
regular breaks
Tips on how to create a Study Plan
Studying for the Exam

If the big question of where to study confuses you, the answer to it is very simple, study in a place where you feel comfortable, relaxed and where you can concentrate properly. If you can, study early morning, head to a library or any place where you find a quiet environment.

You can work with others or join a study group if you find it helpful, but be careful to keep it from turning into an inefficient use of your time.

Time is possibly the most important factor. According to a research conducted, human brain is in its most active state between 5 am to 8 am in the morning and in the evening between 7 pm to 11 pm. Therefore, students who study during these timings have the maximum retention power in comparison with others.

Condensed version
of your readings and class notes
Decide which sections you
absolutely need to cover
. Find out what are the
Decide on
additional material
to cover - time.
Pinpoint the key terms and concepts
and make sure that you understand them, usually emphasized in your classes, textbooks and course syllabus.
The process
of making summary notes can
help you to retain more
writing thoughtfully
instead of just seeing it -
greater perception
of the material.
Activate your other senses
: you can recite the summary notes aloud, and even record and listen to them.
notes together
- less stress
Revising with Summary Notes

Flashcards (or "index cards") = good memorization tool.

Reduce your summary notes into bullet points, keywords, lists, and place them onto a card for each topic.

Flashcards act as
memory triggers
. By memorizing the flashcards you can
enhance your ability to recall larger bits of information referenced by the triggers

You can carry the cards with you and review them even when you have only short bursts of time available.

Good for case law!!! Write the name on one side and facts and principle on the other!

Memorizing with Flashcards
You need to be able to communicate the answers effectively under exam conditions.
Practice using sample questions in the same format as the exam and answer them in a simulated exam environment.

Old exams and assignments
Write full answers to the questions
so you can work through the
entire thought process.
You could also speak to
past or senior students
Remember to
consult with your lecturers, tutors and class mates when you get stuck with any section of work.

Practice doing what will be required of you in the exam, e.g. an Oral Exam may require you to practice talking through the material with class mates so they can tell you
whether you make sense or not
. Or, Essay type answers will require practice writing them and time yourself to see if you can
finish in the stipulated time.

The practice session should serve as a
feedback loop
. Check the answers to the practice questions to
diagnose your strengths and weaknesses
. If you are weak in an area, go back and study it further to address any gaps.

Practicing under Exam Conditions


A good study environment:
Benefiting from a Study Group:
Tools & Techniques
Tools & Techniques
Don't forget to take care of yourself during the exam preparation. It is
very important
to be in
good mental and physical condition
for the exam.

A small amount of stress can get you psyched, but
too much mental or physical strain can be detrimental to your performance
. The last thing you want to do is to sabotage your efforts by ignoring your well-being.

After you finish studying,
take some time to relax

Don't stay up too late if you can help it and try to
get a good night's sleep

Eat before the exam to build your energy, but
avoid heavy foods
that can make you drowsy
Taking Care of Yourself
Deal with Your Anxiety
Develop a routine that includes
stress management
, such as
breathing, relaxation & positive visualization, and exercising

Try to
determine the source of your exam anxiety
. If it stems from a lack of preparation on your part, your anxiety is considered a rational response.

However, if you believe that you are prepared for the exam, but are still panicking or overreacting, this
may be an irrational response
. Either way, it can be very helpful to know how to work with their effects.
Keep a positive attitude about the exam. Think of it as a way to demonstrate your knowledge and not as some imposing challenge.

Changing your attitude can actually help you enjoy studying and learning.

Here are some ways you can work on changing your attitude:

• Remind yourself that
it is only an exam and
there will be others

Reward yourself
when the exam is over.

Think of yourself
in a

positive way

Think of all the hard work you have done

already or think of what you
do know.
• Plan ways to

improve next semester
Change your attitude
Thinking of yourself as a total person, not just as an exam taker.

Proper food
Proper sleep
Reduce distractions
Be proactive and Be prepared

Don’t forget the basics
At least
4 to 6
Before going to bed,
do a final review of summaries or note
s, especially those ones you know is important. Memorizing may work well, but the better you
the work, the better you will remember it. In fact, work that is well understood is very hard to forget.
Get enough rest
Make absolutely sure that you know
when and where you are writing
; you do not want to be running around trying to find your exam hall. This is adding
and may make you
When and where
Pack all the
materials you’ll need
during the exam or exam. Make sure you have the
like your student card or identification. Make sure you know what you are allowed to take into the exam hall and what not, e.g. calculators and what kind.
Prepare a backpack or bag
Eat a
healthy but light
dinner. Don’t eat anything that may cause you to feel ill the next day or disrupt a good night’s rest.
Spend approximately
30 minutes organizing work you wish to cram
Cram only the
most important
sections of the work, e.g. the survival sections.
Do not study
those sections you already feel that you have a working
what sections
of the exam carries the
most marks and focus on those
Go over all the
important cases etc.
Practice deep breathing during 5 minute breaks.
Cramming... (if you must...)
Avoid stimulants.
Don’t drink coffee or take any tablets that will keep you awake or disrupt sleep.
• Wear
comfortable clothing
• Go over your
of materials that you’ll need.

a good, light meal.
• Take a bottle of
with you.

Avoid people who freak you out
before the exam/exam.
• You may go over only the
headings or key points of summarie
s (to
remind your brain of the work it has already covered).
• BUT:
Avoid learning anything new
, including the latest gossip.
• Use
breathing or relaxation
and visualization techniques.

Arrive early!
Arrive at least 1- to 15 minutes before the start of the
• Make sure you used the
The DETER strategy

Read the exam
very carefully!

your lecturer to explain anything about the exam directions you do not understand.

Only by following the directions can you achieve a good score on the exam.

If you do not follow the directions, you will not be able to demonstrate what you know.
D = Directions
• Examine the entire exam to
see how much you have to do.

• Only by
knowing the entire task
can you break it down into parts that become manageable for you.
E = Examine

• Once you have examined the entire exam, decide
how much time you will spend on each item

• If there are different points for items, plan to
spend the most time on the items that count the most points.

• Planning your time is especially important for essay exams where you must
avoid spending so much time on one item that you have too little time left for other exam items.
T = Time
• The second E in DETER reminds you to answer the items you find
easiest first

• If you get stuck on a difficult item that comes up early in the exam, you may not get to answer items that exam things you know.
E = Easiest
• If you have planned your time correctly, you will have time to
review your answers and make them as complete and accurate as possible

• Also make sure to review the exam directions to
be certain you have answered all items required
R = Review
Most essay exam items are
not presented in the form of a question
. Instead, they are often presented as a
statement that includes a direction word
. The direction word tells you what you should do when you write your answer to the item. Look for the direction word and be sure to do what it tells you to do.

Recognizing these direction words and knowing what they tell you to do will help you do well when taking an essay exam.

Analyze, Compare, Contrast, Define, Diagram, Evaluate, Explain, Justify, List, Outline, Summarize and Trace
Direction Words

Circle or underline important words
in the item

Read all the answer choices
before selecting one.

Cross out
answer choices you are
certain are not correct

Look for two answer choices that are

Look for hints about the correct answer choice in
other items on the exam

• Look for answer choices that contain
used by your lecturer or found in your textbooks

Do not change your initial answer
unless you are sure another answer choice is correct.

“all of the above”
if you are certain all other answer choices in the item are correct.

“none of the above”
if you are certain all other answer choices in the item are incorrect.

Multiple-Choice Exams
page 25
Don't worry about
how fast
other people
finish their exam;
just concentrate on your own exam

If you don't know
an answer to a question
skip it for the time being
(come back to it later if you have time), and remember that you don't have to always get every question right to do well on the exam.
Be well prepared.

Space out
your studying over a few days or weeks and continually review class material.

Don't try to learn everything the night before.

Try to maintain a
positive attitude

will help reduce stress.

Get a good night's
before the exam.

Show up to class

Stay relaxed
, if you begin to get nervous take a few
deep breaths.

Read the directions slowly and carefully

If you don't understand the directions on the exam...

Skim through
- good idea how to
pace yourself

Write down
important formulas, facts, definitions and/or keywords
in the margin
first so you won't worry about forgetting them.

Do the
simple questions first
to help build up your confidence for the harder questions.
on the question at hand. Don't let your mind wander.

When the graded exam is returned to you, analyze it to see how you could have done better.
Learn from your mistakes
and from what you did well. Apply this knowledge when you take the next exam.

You have to
know the material
to do well on a exam. You have to
control exam anxiety
to show what you know.
All members =
same course.
size: 2-4.
Get together
prior to exams.
Benefit from
ideas, knowledge & workload.
Each person is an
on different topics or areas.
ground rules
(e.g. Where & when you’ll meet? For how long? When and how often will you take breaks? What kind of preparation and contribution is needed from each member?).
Share the
common goal
Each person
section(s) of the work and presents these summaries to the rest of the group.
Work out
to problems or answers to short and long questions tougher.
Work out problems on own, and bring answers to
with group.
Discuss long question (essay) structure and content in group.
and share lecture/class notes, assignments, etc.
Ensure that
everyone has some set of notes
extra notes, e.g. charts, mind-maps, ideas, thoughts and summaries.
More activity due to analyzing questions, retrieving details and making of associations!
page 23-24
Tools & Strategies to enhance your Academic Success
Study Skills
How to combat Exam Stress & Anxiety
Exam preparation & writing skills
Keep your eyes open for these awesome and very helpful workshops...
Visit Counseling Services for more information
Take a couple of minutes to plan and write down your own personal ACTION PLAN.

E.g. Draw a time-line (2 weeks, 1 week, the day before the exam)

Ask yourself questions like...
Where do I start? e.g. Which subject needs the most attention.
The one thing I will START implementing and the one thing I will STOP doing and in which subject.

How will I measure my success?
Procrastinators also
actively look for distractions
, especially ones that don't take heavy-duty commitment on their part.
For e.g. checking facebook or cleaning house
Procrastinators distract themselves as a way of
regulating their own emotions, such as fear of failure.
Procrastinators are made NOT born

Good, because it's a learned response - can be unlearned

Bad, because although possible to change - takes a lot of psychic energy

They just put too many things on their "To Do" list.
They're getting things done, just not as many as they would like.
5 lies REAL procrastinators tell themselves:
1. They overestimate the time they have left to perform tasks.
2. They underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks.
3. They overestimate how motivated they will feel the next day, the next week, the next month.
4. They mistakenly think that succeeding at a task requires that they feel like doing it.
5. They mistakenly believe that working when not in the mood is suboptimal.
Procrastination is not good for your health:

Creates higher levels of stress and sends stress hormones through your body
Risk for poor health - delay going to Dr.
Weakens immune system
Keeps awake at night
Add stress to relationships

So face it. You've just got to do the task now.
• Make it work for you.
• Minimize distractions.
• If you need music, remember that:
o Gentle relaxing music helps with
o Active, vibrant music helps with
• Get comfortable but not TOO much.
• Make sure there is enough light.
• Get enough fresh air, open a window.
• Use a proper filing system.
If you find your subjects boring, you can convert the chapters into various types of
such as repetition,
funny flash cards
. You could sit with your notebook and write over and over, draw flash cards with information on them and go over them regularly,
design funny rhymes
word associations
to help remember the points.
Other workshops...
Full transcript