Few people genuinely enjoy exams. It is always anxiety-provoking when you feel you are being assessed and can be worse if you do not know how to best prepare. Feeling confident about these aspects will make the exam itself a less daunting experience.
The best possible way to feel less anxious about exams and assessments is to be prepared. That means doing your revision, getting used to writing by hand, practising writing timed exam answers, and getting yourself informed about what to expect when you get to the exam room. The less you leave to the last minute, the more relaxed you will feel, freeing yourself up to focus all your energy on getting the results you deserve. So thinking beforehand about the strategies you might use to plan and write your answers will help you to feel calmer and more prepared.
This information applies to professional exams (e.g. OSCEs, extended patient scenarios, vivas) in CIPPET as well as written exam papers.
There is information on preparing for essay exam questions in the link below, on the right-hand columns are boxes with information on multiple-choice and short answer questions. On the bottom left is information on preparing for professional exams.
Read the module materials - most modules will have information on the assessments in the module handbook and in an exams overview presentation on Blackboard. Make sure you read these to understand what is expected of you so you can organise what you need to prepare.
Organise - start to organise your revision by selecting the topics you are going to revise for each exam paper or professional exam. Choose topics that are basic to the understanding of the subject. It is also a good idea to choose topics that you enjoy or already understand well.
Plan your time - be realistic and do not make a schedule that is too inflexible or onerous as you are less likely to stick to it. Some people work better under pressure, but do not leave it all till the last minute. You will probably need to allocate more time to topics you are less confident in, however tempting it is to just work on the ones you like.
Look at practice questions – these are usually provided by the CIPPET team throughout the module to give you the experience of the types of question that might be asked. Use them to practice reading and understanding the question; identifying topics; planning answers; and writing timed answers.
Engage with mock assessments - most modules will provide an opportunity to undertake preparation sessions or mock exams which provide you with a simulation of the assessment and exam conditions. These are key opportunities to understand what the assessors are looking for and to help you reflect on how you need to prepare.
Find out what the examiner wants - examiners are looking for an understanding of the topic, not just a good memory. They want you to show that you can apply your knowledge to answer the question. So some of the questions you get may look as if they are not something you've been taught - but a bit of thinking will show you how you can apply the things you have been taught. Practise this skill before the exam by setting your revision in context – how does this topic link to others? What are the major debates and issues? Think critically: do you agree or disagree with what has been said? Can you explain why? Is there evidence for or against your view? And keep asking yourself, how would I use this information to answer a question? For professional exams make sure you look at the mark schemes where they are provided in advance.
These assessments provoke similar anxieties to giving presentations. In both cases, the more prepared you feel, the less anxious you will be.
Revising for a professional exam
Undertaking a professional exam
Multiple Choice Questions
These exams should be approached differently to papers that ask for essay-type answers. The answers required are usually more concerned with terms and definitions. Before the exam make sure you understand, practise and engage with the question types:
Revising for multiple choice questions
Answering multiple choice questions
Short answer questions
These usually require a briefer and more descriptive answer than essay questions, which ask you to discuss and expand on a topic.
Revising for short answer questions
Answering short answer questions