Prepare for exams

Prepare for exams

Preparation is the key to a successful exam experience.

We have provided some tips and advice from the experts, along with a handy checklist for you to make sure you’re ready to go on exam day.

Successful exam study tips

Give yourself enough time to study

Don’t leave everything to the last minute, make a study timetable that suits your particular way of studying. Don’t forget to reward yourself for a good study session and remember to include a balance between study and life. A study strategy that may work for you is timeboxing, where you set a study period of 20-25 minutes to focus on one study task at a time. Try going for a short walk or have a healthy snack when you complete a task.

Revise actively and regularly

You’re more likely to retain and recall information that you have learned during spaced or distributed study sessions, for example by spacing your study for one concept over 3 x 20-minute sessions on different days or at different times of a day, rather than doing one solid hour.

Practice a past exam paper

The Library is a great source of past exam papers for almost every unit. Feel free to use the chat on the Library webpage to ask the library staff for help to find the right paper for you. Practice writing answers to these questions within a set time limit.

Check the ‘Exam period assessment’ tab in iLearn to see if there are practice tests, these have been designed to allow you to become familiar with how the exam will run on the day both in terms of the type of questions you may get as well as how the online environment will work.

Better yet, organise a study group with your classmates and practice explaining concepts to each other and asking each other questions. This is a great way of learning and will help keep you motivated. If you don’t have a study group and need a last-minute study buddy, register here to find one.

Be kind to your brain

Take regular breaks. Give your brain the time to recharge and retain all the information you are learning. During those breaks, give exercise a try to keep your mind, body and mood in good condition. Replace food and drinks that are high in sugar and caffeine with healthy snacks to improve your concentration and memory. And keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water!

Take a break from social media

Minimise procrastination by limiting your time on social media. Taking a break from these channels will give you more time and headspace to achieve great things. You can choose to do a guided meditation or listen to the podcast series in the Wellbeing app instead. Every day is progress!

Your exam toolkit

Your preparation checklist

  1. Check your exam timetable and ensure you have the time and the date of your exam(s) scheduled in your calendar.
  2. Read the notes section in the exam timetable to understand what type of exam you are scheduled to take - a  time-limited exam or time-limited window exam. Please refer to the FAQs to understand what these mean.
  3. Check the 'exam period assessment' tab in your iLearn unit to see what exam requirements have been outlined by your lecturer. If the requirements are unclear, please contact your lecturer to clarify before the exam.
  4. If a practice assessment is available within your iLearn unit, please complete it by week 12, so you’re familiar with the online assessment environment. You can check with your lecturer if and when a practice assessment will be made available.
  5. Check what technical requirements you need to complete the exam. Write down a list of what you need or check these are general guidelines on IT requirements. Exams will not require camera for example, but the rest apply.
  6. Ensure you have the right technology to complete the online assessment (eg. charged computer, mobile phone, stable internet connection, access to your unit in the iLearn page, Microsoft Word available on your computer, anything else your lecturer outlined). If you need help or support, chat with the IT Service Desk or log a OneHelp request.
  7. Some units may require you to access questions, write answers and scan and upload these in iLearn. Please download a free scanning app to prepare for this and practice how they work before your exam: Camscanner, Microsoft Office Lens, Adobe Scan.
  8. Start revising the content, stay calm and prepare with StudyWISE: Exams.

One hour before your exam

  1. Check your laptop/computer is working well, your battery is fully charged, and your internet connection is stable.
  2. Have your paper and stationery kit ready before the exam starts. Some exams will require paper, calculator, pen and pencils. Check the requirements.
  3. Open Microsoft Word and be ready to complete your questions – put your OneID and full name in the header. Remember to save your answers regularly as you work.
  4. Make sure you’re able to access your MQ Student Email and iLearn unit during the exam to receive the exam paper, upload your answers (if applicable) and receive any other notifications relating to the exam on the day.
  5. Find a quiet space for the time of your exam with minimal interruptions and a bottle of water available on your desk.
  6. Ensure your brain is rested, you’ve eaten and ready to succeed!
  7. Find more tips for taking exams online.

During the exam

  • Try to remain calm
  • Review the exam requirements and ensure you have all the necessary tools to complete your online assessment
  • Use this time wisely — make sure you understand the instructions of the assessment and that you have read the questions carefully
  • Plan how you will answer the questions. Find more strategies for exams in StudyWISE
  • Stay focused on what you are doing and ignore the people around you.
  • Drink plenty of water and remember, you’ve got this!

Where do I get help if I need general exam support?

If you have questions about your exams, are feeling stressed and need some support, we're here to help.

StudyWISE: ExamsFind information on preparing for your exams.
Student ConnectCall or chat to us online if you have exam questions.
Student Wellbeing and Support Services

There is a range of wellbeing services that are available to you any time during your studies to support you and help you succeed.  We have extended our health and wellbeing services to provide 24-hour support for all Macquarie University students -  dial 1800 CARE MQ (1800 2273 67) - it's free, anytime, any day. You can also download the MQ Wellbeing app for Android or iOS.

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