Friday, 23 August 2013

Letter to a student worrying about the exams...

Dear Student.
You are worried about the forthcoming exam. As President Roosevelt said in his first inauguration address - "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
 Exam nerves are natural - and most people suffer from them. In fact my experience is that I needn't worry about my students who worry about their exams - the ones to worry about are the ones not worried. Their complacency usually shows that they haven't engaged with the subject yet. I remember one girl who got so het-up about the exam that I had to take her out of the hall 10 minutes after the exam began - and she was sick. She returned - and walked off with first class honours!!!
I will continue to attempt to address the issue of exam nerves and revision in my tutorials; tutorial key point videos and washminster posts.
Try to treat exams as a game (OK, not a fun game!) - but actually exams resemble a game - with its rules (such as you must answer 4 questions in 3 hours; you must answer two questions from each part etc - break the rules in either football or exams and you are penalised.
Like crossword games - the wording of questions have certain conventions, they contain clues that help you solve the problem)
There are no word targets! You have 3 hours to answer 4 questions of equal value. I argue that the most valuable time is at the start of the exam
- give yourself time for the "panic" after seeing the questions to subside (we've had suffered it - the fightback begins when you start saying - "this is a disaster, what can I can salvage from it..." - and the memory & logic returns);
- to consider which questions give YOU the best opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding;
- to think about and make a detailed plan for each answer - and ensure that it's arguments are logical and complete, and have as much support (cases and statute & academic writers cited)_as possible.
Allowing for a few minutes at the end to review - and add anything you might has missed earlier -
you probably have 30 minutes or so to turn that each essay plan into an answer.
If, like me - you don't physically write much - as opposed to typing it on a computer - it may be useful to get a little "exercise" to get used to writing for a long time.
All the very best