13 essential tips for exam success
Your exam marks might count for more than all of your coursework combined, so it’s worth taking the time to make sure you’re properly prepared.
Here are the 13 essentials.
1. Read the Academic Code of Conduct
This code of conduct outlines various exam-related taboos in detail, as well as the sanctions that may result from them.
The 15-page document seems like a lot to read, but a careless misstep — like ripping a page out of an exam booklet — can nullify your results. Think of those 15 pages as a long-term investment.
2. Check your schedule
Check your personalized final exam schedule via your MyConcordia portal or consult a paper copy posted in the following locations:
- The Mezzanine of the Henry F. Hall Building on the Sir George Williams Campus
- The third floor of the Molson Building on the Sir George Williams Campus
- Outside Room CC-214 in the Central Building on the Loyola Campus
If you discover an exam conflict, make sure to report it to the examinations office.
3. Consult exam resources
The Exams page on the student hub brings together a lot of vital information, including rules and regulations, steps for deferring an exam, dealing with conflicts, setting an external exam and reporting an illness.
The Student Success Centre offers an entire range of exam prep sessions for selected math, accounting and economics exams.
You can visit the Exam Preparation page for session schedules, locations and to register. Sessions fill up quickly.
4. Make a study plan
Some exams may require only a few hours of preparation, while others take much longer. Plan your schedule accordingly — you’ll want to feel confident going into each exam.
Also, set aside time for study breaks: eating, sleeping, socializing and exercising. Staying healthy is key to your success during this make-or-break period of your academic career.
5. Manage your stress
There are lots of quick, easy ways to turn anxiety into action. If you’re overwhelmed, get help. There are plenty of resources available if you’re having difficulty coping with the crunch — including tutoring, counselling and medical support.
6. Cite your references
Plagiarism is the most common — and easily avoided — academic offence. One way to stay on track during a take-home or open-book exam is by knowing how to correctly cite your primary source material.
Follow the rules laid out by your professor, and read the citation and style guides created by Concordia Library. That way, you’ll be sure you’re giving credit where it’s due.
7. Know before you go
Each exam is different, so do some research.
Find out from your professor what’s going to be covered, what format the exam will take and how much it counts toward your final grade. Knowledge is power …
ON EXAM DAY
8. Be on time
Driving to campus, or taking public transit? Give yourself plenty of time to get to your exam, in case there’s traffic or a road closure. It’s far better to be too early than too late.
The shuttle buses between Concordia’s Sir George Williams and Loyola campuses will run until 11 p.m. during the exam period. Visit the shuttle bus web page for a complete schedule.
9. Bring your ID (but not your phone)
Don’t forget your student ID card, because you’ll need it to get into the exam room. And leave your phone at home: it’s against the rules to have one with you.
You also aren’t allowed to show up with supplementary materials that are not expressly authorized in the exam’s instructions.
10. Keep your eye on the prize
“Don’t talk to people before the exam,” says learning specialist Elaine Ransom-Ransom-Hodges from the Student Success Centre.
“Don’t compare notes and don’t do anything that could put you off your game.”
You're ready. You've got this.
11. Don’t get bogged down
According to the Student Success Centre's Elaine Ransom-Hodges, you shouldn’t start with the hardest question.
“Find a question you’re comfortable with, and do that one first,” she says.
“Build your confidence, get engaged and get your brain warmed up. That’s part of performing: accessing that information and getting your head in the zone.”
Gordon Dionne, manager of the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities, recommends this strategy:
“Take a few minutes at the beginning of your exam to look through it. Look at the number of questions or sections and estimate how long each will take you. Then plan your time accordingly. Try to keep 15 to 30 minutes of time for revision at the end of the exam.”
12. Rest your brain
“If you start to feel anxiety, put the pencil down, close your eyes and breathe,” Ransom-Hodges says. “Then brainstorm. Try to find something you know about that thing, but don’t jump to catastrophic thinking. If you learned it, it will come to you.”
13. Be present
“Feel the chair under your bum, look at the pen, notice what it feels like,” says Ellie Hummel, Concordia’s chaplain.
“Look around, take a few deep breaths and centre yourself.”
At a certain point, you have to trust that all the hard work you put in beforehand is enough.
“Things will be how they will be.”
Find out more about Concordia’s Student Success Centre.
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