Exams are a form of assessment where you are required to complete a particular academic task or tasks in a limited time, often in a particular place and without assistance from other people and resources. The purpose of exams may vary according to the course, program and type of exam.
- Why exams?
- Before the exam: long-term planning
- Before the exam: final weeks
- On the day of the exam
- After the exam
- Extra time in exams (ENTEXT)
Exams are set so that lecturers can gauge students' knowledge and understanding of the course that may not be available through other forms of assessment. Exams can test your
- ability to recall and apply theory
- knowledge of the content area
- critical thinking and problem solving skills
- communication skills
- ability to work alone and under pressure
- the authenticity of your work
Your course information booklets provide all the information you need about the assessment component of each course you are enrolled in. Check it for the exam format and any details of exam content.
Exam preparation should be part of your overall planning for each study period. At the start of each study period it is important to map the assessment tasks in every course, including exams, so that you know what is expected.
You should begin your exam preparation for the end of study period exams from the first week of lectures. Your lecture notes will be the basis for ongoing learning and then exam revision. Each week take time to check over current topics as well as review previous work.
Useful strategies include:
- identifying the most important issues in each theme from the course outline, lecture and tutorial notes, past exam papers
- developing a list of likely questions on each topic
- developing question analysis skills
- talking through the questions and topics with other students
The last weeks before the exam can be used to fine tune your understanding of the topics and concepts. Develop an overview of your course by reducing your notes to a summarised version.
Nearer to the exam you will need to:
- allocate more time to revision
- write practice answers keeping to the time that will be allowed in the exam
- confirm the practical details: date, location, starting time, overall length, number and type of questions, likely allocation of marks, exam weighting (% of study period mark)
- check with a friend that your writing under exam conditions is clear and legible.
- rearrange work or family commitments that might affect your exam performance
On the day of the exam it will help if you are well organised. You will feel more confident if you are well prepared. Check that you have all the equipment and resources that you are allowed in the exam. Eat well and follow any personal preferences in regard to your level of contact with other students and your time of arrival at the exam room. Make sure you bring your student ID card which is also required for identifying you at the venue.
Some students like to be very early and chat with friends; others prefer their own company before exams. A certain level of anxiety is normal and this can heighten your performance.
In the exam room select a location that suits you. If you have any problems that you cannot solve (e.g. wobbly table or chair) get help from an invigilator. Make yourself comfortable whilst you are waiting for instructions.
When you are told to look at your exam paper, use the reading time to:
- read the instructions carefully
- note how many questions you must answer, any compulsory questions or sections, and the allocation of marks
- allocate time for each question
- if you are allowed to write, jot down ideas or plans for questions
During writing time:
- analyse questions carefully so that you understand what to do
- start with questions that you know best - this will boost your confidence
- monitor your progress so that you don't go over time on any section of the paper
- make sure that the number you put on your answer matches the number on the question
- leave time at the end to check your writing
As you can learn from your exam experiences you should
- review your performance and take note of anything you want to change next time
- if your performance was disappointing, make time to discuss your exam paper with the course coordinator to find out what you did to lose marks
Some students (for example, Indigenous students and those of non-English speaking background) are entitled to:
- the use of an English print dictionary
- extra reading or writing time, normally 10 minutes
- the use of a bilingual print dictionary
This is in accordance with section 3.3 of the Assessment Policy and Procedures Manual which states that students who are Indigenous or who have identified themselves as coming from a Non English speaking background (NESB) are entitled to extra support during exams, unless otherwise specified in the course information booklet.
How can I get extra time in exams (ENTEXT)?
If you identified yourself as an Indigenous Australian student or a Student from a non-English speaking background when you enrolled, your ENTEXT (Entitlement to Extra Time in Exams) will be displayed by a red 'E' on your student ID card. You must bring this card with you to all examinations.
If you did not identify yourself as an Indigenous Australian student or student from a non-English speaking background when you enrolled, and you wish to have ENTEXT entitlements, you need to contact Campus Central to amend your records.
If you require further assistance, please make an appointment with a counsellor in the Learning and Teaching Unit on your campus.
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