Ask the RPS : The Key to Good Exam Technique

We all know that the Mahendra patelstress and pressure of the exam situation can lead you to make mistakes that cost you marks. However, perfecting your exam technique can make the world of difference, and can help you greatly improve your marks. Dr Mahendra Patel, RPS Board Member and Principal Enterprise Fellow in Pharmacy at Huddersfield University gives us his top tips on planning, remaining calm and nailing your exam!



Top tips for being better prepared for exams:

1. Planning
2. Preparation
3. Technique
4. During exam
5. Plagiarism

1. Planning
• Important to plan well ahead of time and not last minute wake- up planning
• Try and conform to the SMART objectives
• Make sure there is also time included for other activities e.g. social and pleasure
o Look closely at the exam timetable as soon as it is made available to you – work into your finer routine planning for preparation closer to time
o Use various formats to make planning effective – may sometimes help to plan with fellow peers and friends if it is practical to do so
o Use appropriate electronic tools in diary formats etc where necessary to support more effective planning in terms of successful delivery with the use of reminders

2. Preparation
• Study the module contents closely and work through each of the learning objectives stipulated to ensure you understand them fully and have the appropriate materials to support your learning accordingly
• It’s important that wherever a guidance is made available in terms how marks are allocated for a piece of work and the different grading structure then make sure you have fully studied this information – remember that’s the generalised template the tutors will work from
• Make use of any free lab space including dispensing labs so as to get more proficient and confident with using equipment where possible e.g. the dispensing computer software – make good use of facilities should you need to support/consolidate your revision work
• During your revision period ensure you receive adequate sleep and have time for sufficient exercise through regular and active breaks – it’s important to be mentally and physically well.
• Identify and address areas needing more information or clarification
• For coursework:
• Ask someone to proof read where appropriate –this could simply be for grammar, layout etc
• Make sure you reference and acknowledge fully other people’s work if you have used within your work at any point
• Make sure the vocabulary and grammar are correct and do not use slang terms
• Ensure your layout is well structured, planned and clear to the eye – for lab-based work especially there should be an aim , method, result and discussion and brief conclusion, or equivalent and referenced appropriately

3. Technique
• Make sure all your notes are neatly organised and inviting rather than being a chore to go through
• Make condensed notes to help you recap your work quickly
• Use flow charts, cards, wall charts, post-notes in different colours – to suit individual learning
• Make sure your phone is away from your room and switched off – so it becomes an active step to go and get it and act less as an excuse for distraction
• Practice makes perfect – so try out some papers under exam conditions where possible

4. During the exam
• Make sure your read the paper and all the questions carefully – sounds elementary but often people answer wrong question, run out of time thinking actual time allocation was longer
• Try and mark out and do the ones you feel you most comfortable to build up confidence early
• Always read back your answers (can be boring but extremely worthwhile) and the whole paper if you have time – do not be complacent. Invariably you will make corrections and additions
• On the day of exam – make sure you have eaten properly e.g. carbohydrates rather than short acting sugar and energy drinks

5. Plagiarism and cheating and mitigating circumstances
• Remember cheating or bringing in unauthorised materials for use in an exam can affect your whole exam setting – not worth it with all the ensuing investigations and accompanying anxieties and potential penalties such as repeating the module, the year, and the GPhC being notified for breach of professional conduct
• Having notes written on hands should be cleaned off before the exam

Improving your exam technique could be the difference between a pass and fail so make sure you feel comfortable with your exam preparation!

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