Posted on 25th March 2024

Exam Prep Tips for University Students

The exam season dread is creeping in, and we really can’t blame you if you want to crawl under the covers and hibernate until it’s all over. But fear not, we’ve all been there. Here’s the good news: you can ditch the stress and conquer those exams.

This guide is packed with some of the best exam prep tips and tested strategies to help you not just survive this academic marathon, but crush it with confidence.

We’re talking about unlocking the secrets to exam domination, all while keeping the stress levels low.

1. Get a good night’s sleep

Ever wake up feeling like you can take on the world? That’s the power of good sleep! Science backs this up too: studies have shown that quality sleep strengthens the connections between brain cells. This is essential for memory consolidation, which means your brain is better at storing and retrieving information.

So, what does this mean for exams? It means you won’t just remember the information you crammed all night (been there, done that!), you’ll also understand it on a deeper level. Plus, a well-rested brain is a critical thinking and problem-solving machine – exactly what you need to crush those tricky essay questions.

2. Create Flashcards

Flashcards are like miniature gyms for your brain. They work by using a system of spaced repetition, which means that you go back to information at increasingly longer times to lock it into your memory for the long haul. Think of it like building strong mental links for each topic. 

Plus, flashcards help you break down chunks of information into bite-sized bits that are perfect for studying on the go. You can even use them to create mini-quizzes to test yourself. 

To make the learning process more fun, you can use apps like Anki, Quizlet and Brainscape to create digital cards in which you can add pictures, diagrams or mnemonics

3. Review Your Syllabus

Don’t underestimate the power of an early syllabus review! It’s like getting a sneak peek at the exam beforehand. 

By getting familiar with your syllabus early on, you can avoid last-minute surprises and plan your study schedule wisely. In addition, the syllabus will usually give you details of the exam format and grading criteria. When you know what types of questions to expect (multiple choice, essay) and how marks are awarded for each, you’ll be setting yourself up for success since you’ll be able to organise your revision.

4. Use Mind maps

Mind maps are more than just fancy doodles; they’re powerful tools for active learning especially if you find that things stick better in your mind when they’re visual. 

As you create your mind map, your brain will be actively engaging with the material and making connections between different concepts. Plus, by using colour, images and even scribbles it can make the usually boring exam prep sessions a bit more fun. 

While pen and paper is a classic way to create mind maps, you can try your hand at using sites like Canva or Mindmup to make a digital version.

5. Teach others

There’s a good reason why it’s said that “teaching is the best way to learn”.  Explaining complex concepts to your friends isn’t just about helping them – it’s also a good way to deepen your own understanding.  

As you break down the information and answer questions, you’re actively reinforcing your knowledge and developing strong communication skills. So, grab your study group, brainstorm at the whiteboard and get into your professor’s shoes – you’ll probably be surprised at just how much your brain has retained!

6. Use Past Papers

Practice makes perfect, and when it comes to really acing your upcoming exams, we highly recommend giving some of your module’s past papers a go. 

By doing a few past papers, you’re not just testing your knowledge – you’re getting a sneak peek at the exam layout, question types, and even marking schemes. In addition to all of the benefits, writing past papers will help you get an idea of how to pace yourself so you can finish your real exam in good time – this will help stamp down some of the exam prep stress you might feel bubbling up. 

7. Find Your Learning Style

If there’s one thing to know about revising for exams, is that everyone learns differently. This means that the key to scoring high might just be down to finding the right learning style for yourself. 

To figure out your learning style, we highly recommend you take a learning style quiz. Once you figure out how you learn best (whether it’s seeing, hearing, writing, or doing), you can make studying easier and remember more things. 

This can help you with things outside of uni, maybe even once you’re at your first job! 

8. Plan Your Morning

​​They say failing to plan is planning to fail, and when it comes to exam prep, that couldn’t be more true.  But don’t worry, a little planning can go a long way in transforming exam day from a stressful scramble into a smooth and confident experience. 

Make sure the night before your exam, you have your journey planned out and all you need is packed. By knowing exactly what time to leave, what to pack, and how to get to the exam hall – you can start your day on a much calmer note which will help all the long studying you’ve done stick.

For some extra help, try downloading a reminder app like

9. Have a healthy breakfast

Exam prep doesn’t stop at revising; it’s also about what you eat. Having a good breakfast before your exam can help. We recommend fueling your brain with a power-packed meal that will keep you sharp and focused throughout the entire exam.

Try a bowl of porridge (sounds boring, but it really helps!), as oats provide your body with slow-releasing complex carbs that can help keep your energy levels steady. If you prefer something more savoury, try some eggs – they’re a great source of protein, which aids in focus, concentration, and memory recall!

By starting your day with a balanced and brain-boosting breakfast, you’ll be setting yourself up for an easier day without a rumbling belly. 

10. De-stress with Meditation

Exams by their very nature cause a lot of anxiety, so to help reduce this we suggest you try some meditation before your exam. Take a moment to steal away to a quiet corner and calm the pre-exam jitters with a quick mindfulness session.

Simply close your eyes, focus on your breathing and let the calm wash over you. Just a few minutes of mindful breathing can do wonders for reducing stress and sharpening your focus.

With a clear and collected mind, you’ll feel much more confident when you walk into the exam hall.

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