So what’s hard about exams, and why do the same people keep nailing them? We’ve done The Case Study to help you understand:

What The H1’S Are Doing

The answer we came to is “knowing what and how to study.” The top students never do more study than you, and they’re not altogether “smarter” than you, but for some unknown reason the universe and stars align anytime they sit an exam. Why the hell is this?!

It’s not luck. There’s a science behind it.

Here’s what we know top students do (we’re just going to exclude the anomalies out of here, who skim the textbook 15minutes before the exam and score a 96 – those guys should be at NASA by this stage, not competing with us – they’ve failed their “potential):

  1. They summarize the lecture after each class
  2. Come SWOT Vac they bring these notes together, and use them as their own personal “textbook” for the class. These notes are now a one-stop shop, bringing together core concepts and key points, plus insights on what the lecturer has focused on. Many students read through and pull out key points, and make notes from notes. Some even rewrite parts. However, too much time should not be spent on this point – the marks don’t lie in understanding all the material, they lie in answering questions. The notes are just the tools.
  3. They then attempt all the tutorial problems again, with the aid of their newly compiled “master resource.”
  4. Ditto for questions at the end of chapters in the textbook. For large exam problems, with multiple parts (a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k – stupid we know), textbook chapter questions are ideal ones to just slot in for that overworked exam writer.
  5. Once all this has been attempted, it’s onto the holy grail of exam prep – Past Paper Problems.
  6. Keep doing the questions until you get them ALL correct. Highlight ones that you get wrong, and revisit them with fresh eyes. University exams are best prepared for with practice problems. So do all the practice problems you can to prepare. If you’re spending more time writing notes, than answer problems, you need to flip the process- now’s the time!

So what are the keys here?

Top students don’t spend a lot of time making notes during SWOT VAC and exams. They’ve typically already made their notes (or they’re insomniacs who thrive on pressure and stress), and are now revisiting and revising them. Their notes are incredibly organized and becoming evermore efficient to help them learn faster through clarity.

The trick is to start practice problems early, and the way to do this is to have a handle on the core material so you can.

This knowledge is something we’ve learnt the Hard Way. We never did it, and suffered the pain of mediocrity come results. Learn from our mistakes, our knowledge, and learn from the example of our best students. Dorian, Alastair, and Nick, have been making notes all semester. They’re now revising those notes, condensing them, and attempting practice problems.

Key Take Aways:

  • Get your notes done
  • Make sure they’re neat
  • Make sure they’re organized
  • Start doing problems

Good Luck and Happy Studying!


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