Blog entry by Ann Gardner
After 17 years of formal education, university students are being asked if they would like to take their final exams online. This is a completely new format. This is in addition to a mental health crisis that has already affected them.
However, there are some upsides. Remote exams allow students to be more flexible, are more aware of their individual needs and can better understand the pressures they are under. Here are some tips for students to tailor their revision in order to get the most from online assessment.
A revision procedure should be created
First, choose the topics and learning materials that you want to cover. You can also consult tutors for past papers and samples of answers.
Once you have an exam timetable, divide that time by the number topic to create a study program. Delroy Hall, senior counsellor at Sheffield Hallam University and wellbeing practitioner, said that it's crucial to build routine into revision. "Covid-19 has disrupted everything that [routine] had, so we need to be deliberate about how we manage and live our lives."
Hall recommends the Pomodoro Technique, which involves 25 minutes of study, followed by five-minute breaks, and then a repeat. This can be helpful if revision overwhelms you or you struggle to stay focus.
Not just words but concepts.
Begin reviewing lecture videos, course notes, marks essays, and important source materials. Hall states that it is important to "learn concepts, ideas, and not memorise a lot of text." Open book exams allow you to show that you can apply learning and not what you just remember. While this relieves pressure, it can be distracting to look for sources while taking a test.
You can make summary sheets that include key ideas, quotes, analysis and other information. This active revision will help you remember and understand information and make it easier to find the right information during the exam.
It is best to begin revision early and use existing notes rather than learn new material. Hall states that there is more stress than normal and that you should do your best to ease it.
It's okay to panic if it's too late. You can make a plan but prioritize the topics according to your time. Hall's "worry-sheet" technique may also be useful. Divide a sheet of paper into two and fill one half with things you control (such as bedtimes and meal times) and the second with things you don't (when your vaccine will be available). You can then focus on what you can control and let nature take care of the rest.
Take control of exam anxiety
Online exams, online alone, and during a pandemic are huge things. It is okay to feel angry or anxious about it. There are other ways to deal with your worries. There are other ways to reduce stress. Create an exam space separate from your revision area. Sit at a desk or at the kitchen counter, for instance, and avoid getting into bed.
You should check to see if your university offers online exam walkthroughs. These videos show how it will work, from logging into to uploading answers. Download, log in, and practice any recommended software before you start the exam. Ask your university to lend you a laptop, dongle or any other necessary kit if you are concerned about being without an internet connection during the exam.
Do a dry run of 24- and 48-hour exam if you are not familiar with them. You don't have to stay at your desk for long periods of time. It's better to balance working and sleeping with your schedule.
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