Top Tips for Exam Preparation

By Kate Ellis

Our top tips for nailing your exams this trimester!

  1. Start your exam preparation early

Our top tip is to not leave studying for your exam till the night before.

Evidence suggests starting about four weeks before your exams.

Write down your exam time, location and date, and work out which ones to prioritise first

Deakin Students can access their exam timetable in StudentConnect:

2. Organise your time and set goals

Set up a study schedule and plan study sessions that work for you.

Short 15 minute breaks can be useful for look through unit material or flash cards.

Studying for too long without a break may become inefficient and detrimental to your study when studying for hours on end. You may become bored or tired, and won’t remember what you are studying.

Another important part of exam prep is setting realistic goals.

Start by asking yourself, What do you want to achieve out of this exam?

Deakin’s Weekly and Trimester Study Planners:

3. Effective Revision

Summarise and revise your notes. Try not to simply rewrite lecture notes or recordings.

Start by identifying your unit’s key learning objectives and any relevant vocabulary and concepts.

Use visual tools such as flowcharts, diagrams, or flips cards

Engage in Active learning, this involves removing any distractions from your study environment – Try to avoid having access to social media.

Making a study group with peers is another revision tool that can be an effective way to synthesise important concepts and highlight gaps within your knowledge.

See Deakin’s Study Videos on using Flip Cards and Mind maps:

7. Study techniques – Interval study and note-taking

Effective study techniques such as interval study and note-taking has been shown to help recall of exam and study material.

Interval or Spaced learning:

Interval studying includes study periods of interval sessions using either the Pomodoro technique of 25 minutes for each significantly different topic, material or unit – equating to four rounds of 25 minutes each with 5 minute breaks in between.

The Interval study or spaced learning follows this study period for the duration of your preparation for the exam – For example a four week study period – Wherein you would study one session a day for a week, before extending the period between study to a three day gap, and slowly increasing the time between study session till your exam.

This interval study technique involves the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve – where an individual’s memory is unable to be retained across an extended period of time.

(Reference: Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve – Psychestudy )

Effective note-taking:

Effective note-taking in preparation for studying and exams can help solidify the knowledge and think in a more applied context to the topic you are studying

Effective note-taking may include summarising the topic in your own words, think while note-taking of the purpose of the topic, and related experiences or examples from real-life

Effective note-taking:

Notes on EFFECTIVE note-taking | Lisa’s Study Guides (

How to study effectively: The ultimate guide | Brainscape Academy

Lecture notes: note-taking tips that really work | Oxbridge Essays

Spaced learning and the Pomodoro technique:

Pomodoro Study Method: How To Really Use This Powerful Technique – Exam Study Expert

How to Remember More of What You Learn with Spaced Repetition (

4. Complete Practice Exam Papers

Exam papers can be an effective tool to test what you know and what areas you need to revise.

If past exam papers are available – Complete as many as you can under exam conditions.

If exam papers are not available for your subject you can create your own questions and swap with a study group.

Find Deakin past exams here:

5. On the day of the exam – just breathe!

Ensure to get enough sleep the night before, and eat a healthy fulfilling breakfast – fuel and rest for your body may help consolidate learnt knowledge, and allow energy for the day

Try not to cram right before the exam as this can increase your anxiety or stress.

Try not to watch others studying either as your own work is what’s the most important, and sometimes not talking to anyone before the exam allows you to relax, and focus on consolidating your own knowledge

Before you walk into an exam, or sit your exam online: Stop. Breathe. Relax, you’ve got this

6. During the exam – use your time wisely

During the initial reading timePlan how much time you will spend on each section. Remember to leave time to revise your answers and check for punctuation, grammar and coherency.

Take time to read the exam questions carefully – Determine exactly what the question wants you to answer. You can do this by identifying key words.

Start with the easiest questions – First ensure you will get those marks. Don’t waste too much time on a question, if you don’t know the answer, move on and leave it until the end.

If you run out of time for questions, write dot points and summarise your intended answer

Let us know what topics you want to see next in the comment section below!

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