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Why am I so terrible at exams

(4 Posts)
SarfEasticatedMumma Sun 31-May-15 22:37:04

I feel that I am an intelligent person, I understand quite complex theories quite easily and participate well in lectures, but when I come to writing an essay on I really struggle. I do lots of reading, seem to really understand the subject, but find it really hard expressing myself on paper. I don't really do myself justice in a way, and am not 100% comfortable using academic language. I am also very conscious that the people marking my work know everything about the subject and I don't. I feel like a bit of a fraud and it's a bit crippling really. I am 3 years through a 4yr part time degree course, so time is running out! I have managed to get some A's at some essays so not doing that badly, but seem to get C's in exams.
Any suggestions for me?

Slippersmum Wed 03-Jun-15 15:19:39

Everyone feels like a fraud on some level. I have know lots of people in high powered jobs who worry one day they will be discovered as someone who should never have been appointed, it even has a name, so you are certainly not alone! No one likes to be judged. Could you try and shift your thinking as rather these all knowing people who mark your work (who won't be incidentally won't be) are sharing their knowledge and empowering you to do better in a professional constructive way. Read the feedback and really try and take it on board, this is your chance to learn all you can in your chosen area. When I was at uni my best friend had done a study skills course prior to our degree, she shared what she had learnt about how to revise with me and we revised together and my marks went up by 20%. Can you book in to student support and ask them for a revision session? Study skills is a skill to be learnt in myself. I had another friend who refused to accept this and revised in a way that just was not effective and in the end sadly she failed her course. Not because she was not an intelligent person but because she didn't take on board just how important these skills are. Hope that helps? Good luck with the remainder of your course xx

AnneOfAramis Tue 14-Jul-15 12:51:15

I have just finished a degree in a humanities subject. I did better in every single exam than essays but I found a way of revising that worked really well from very early on. On the day of my final exam I was sat having coffee with the school mums and they couldn't believe I could be so relaxed. Everyone has a slightly different way of learning but my strategy for exams is as follows:-

Step 1 locate past exam papers if they exist. Work out which topics are of particular interest and see how often they come up. Select revision topics. I had to answer 3 essay type questions in 3 hours so would try to pick 5 topics because this allows for a tpoic to be missing but also means I can give enough time.

Step 2 find the essay questions relating to the topics, get all your reading together. This should include all of the required reading and your notes from lectures etc.

Step 3 re-read lecture notes with a large piece of A3 paper and have pens/highlighters to hand. Title of topic in the middle and then as you read your notes write each unique point separately with any relevant quote etc next to it. These will become your headings and sub-topics to answer your question.

Step 4 Transfer sub headings to their own piece of paper and when reading make notes - but only on the relevant piece of paper. You have now thought about those topics twice. If they can be split into sub headings then do that.

Step 4 Type all those notes up. You are now looking at this info for the third time.

Step 5 Take one set of typed notes and pick an exam question and write an answer in timed conditions with your notes in front of you. Use them as much as you want.

Step 6 transfer those notes to record cards (fourth time) allowing yourself no more than 10 record cards and no more than 4 points per card.

Step 7 Look at those cards whenever you can. Just before bed, when making a cup of tea, on the bus. Use them as prompts. Ask someone to hold the cards and read the title of the card, this should prompt you to recall what is on the card. The info on the card will be limited but

e.g. The card might be ...
STALIN
Culture
Quote
Socialist Realism

So you would be prompted to recall some stats/quote that is the card and perhaps talk about it in more detail because you have been answering practice questions. Its deisgned to help you recall what to cover.

Step 8 until exam day just keep doing a practice question here and there.

Most important just be calm and answer the question.

AnneOfAramis Tue 14-Jul-15 12:52:20

Sorry that was huge. Plus don't over revise. When i was working through my steps and had moved to past papers my friend was still reading new material in the library. He had real issues recalling anything becuase he had too much info. Good luck.

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