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Inside track, Succeeding in Exams and Assessments

Inside track, Succeeding in Exams and Assessments

Eddie Blass

May 2009, Paperback, 204 pages
ISBN13: 9780273721727
ISBN10: 0273721720
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Successful Exams & Assessments is suitable for students across higher education who want to improve their revision strategies and get better outcomes from exams and assessments.

Covering all aspects of the examination, it addresses how to take useful notes right through to mental preparation for the day of the exam.

Chapter 1 – How to use a model

This chapter looks at academic language and what it really means, how lecturers put themselves on pedestals, and a guide to academia in general.

Chapter 2 – How to read an academic article and make notes

This chapter looks at reading academic articles and how to make notes so that you can use them time and time again. Referencing is also covered, with very clear guidelines on what is and what is not plagiarism. This chapter will recommend the use of an online package such as EndNote to help students with bibliographies.

Chapter 3 – The art of discipline

University study is about self-discipline, and this is the key difference from school. Developing the study discipline to get through is very difficult for some people as there are too many choices for them to deal with and too small a framework within which to make the choices. This chapter offers some frameworks to help students master the art of discipline.

Chapter 4 – How to learn from others

Learning is generally a social process and yet much time at university is spent sitting alone in the learning resource centre reading. This chapter focuses on using the social element of university life to help the learning process, be it virtual or face to face, so that you maximize your learning from others.

Chapter 5 – How to deal with study-depression

This chapter will discuss surviving life at university, common difficulties faced in settling in, leaving home, not leaving home, and needing to work, manage finances and being generally poor and miserable! Particular focus will be on how to manage the depression that sets in when you feel you don’t understand anything, don’t know where to start, can’t write an essay, don’t know what’s expected, or feel like you are failing. This is more than a chapter on positive thinking, but really looks at the support mechanisms and strategies that can help students survive this dip so that they don’t drop out.

Chapter 6 – Why people fail exams

This chapter draws on the experiences and stories of lecturers reflecting on exam scripts they have marked, and exams they have invigilated, and why it is that the students failed. Key issues include not answering the question set, only giving one side of an argument when they are asked to compare and contrast, writing 6 pages on one topic rather than covering a range of topics, and so forth.

Chapter 7 - Preparing for examinations

This chapter focuses on the mental preparation for exams, self-efficacy and stress management. If students manage their stress, they generally manage their time, and this is key in the preparation for exams. Specific preparation relating to lab work assessments, practical examinations, oral examinations etc will also be discussed.

Chapter 8 – Revising

Various strategies for retaining knowledge are discussed here from note revision, past questions, revising in groups, individually, revision lectures, and so forth. Different strategies work for different people but there are strategies that can help everyone get better regardless of how they do it. Different types of examinations are also considered with specific preparation for each, eg multiple choice, a practical assessment, lab work, and so forth.

Chapter 9 – Passing written examinations

There are some really simple rules here – like write out the title! The most common reason for failing an exam is not answering the question. I’ve not seen anyone do this who has written out the title as they must repeat it to themselves a dozen times when writing it out. Also, division of labour – ie separate brain and hand. Taking thinking time to plan the answer and then writing time to write it stops the hand spending three pages writing the same point over and over again….

Chapter 10 – The examination post-mortem

This is a dangerous thing to do – discussing with friends what you’ve written and realizing that your answers were completely different to theirs. This chapter focuses on how to use each years exam experience to build positively for the next year through structured reflection. As this is the final chapter it also helps students reflect on what they want to do next, where they want their career to go, and how to think about their future development…..with maybe a little plug for further university study!

Chapter 11 – Passing other assessments

Annotated Index

  • Understanding what tutors are really looking for
  • Advice on how to use exam experience – good or bad – to your advantage in the future
  • Practical advice on avoiding plagiarism and how to use software packages, such as EndNote.
  • Guidance on making the transition from school to university student and how HE study differs to A level study.
  • Focuses on both mental and practical preparation for exams