Exam essays


Studying your lecture notes

Look over your lecture notes. Avoid passively reading lecture slides or notes. Instead, use active learning techniques. Reorganise information on a topic into flowcharts, mind maps or tables. Explain a diagram in sentences or convert a block of text into a diagram. Imagine you are the lecturer, how would you explain the concepts and terms to a student? Create flashcards and use them to test yourself.

See Exams: Preparing and Revising

Work out what is important

  • Most lecturers provide learning outcomes for the course or indicate what they expect you to know for the exam. 
  • During a lecture, the lecturer will often emphasise topics or examples that will be in the exam. If you notice this, write a reminder on your lecture notes to include that topic.
  • For each lecture, make a list of the major concepts and include an appropriate example. Show initiative and find new examples not given in lectures.
  • Learn a diagram that illustrates a concept and sketch it in the exam. Having a picture to write about can be a good way to start your essay.
  • Imagine you are the lecturer. Given the material you’ve covered in class, what would you put in the exam?

Flashcard example

Mindmap example

Table examples


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Written by Ben Blain and appeared in Craccum May 2014.

Kea Parrot. [Photograph]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. http://quest.eb.com/#/search/107_295311/1/107_295311/cite

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