Prepare for and Write Exams
At university, you will encounter many different types of exams. It is important to consider the types of questions you will have to answer when you make a study plan.
- Tips for Exams: In-person, Online, and Take-Home Exams
- Writing Different Types of Exams
- How to Study
- Make a study plan
- Take-Home Exams
- Online, Open-Book Exams
- Multiple Choice Exams
- Bell-Ringer Exams
- Short Answer and Essay Exams
- Studying for Essay Exams
- Study Strategies for Multiple Choice and More
- Managing Exam Anxiety
- Strategies for Group Study
Analyze each of your upcoming exams. Complete the chart with information about the type of exam questions, the length of the exam, and which strategies you'll use to study. Then set out blocks of time for study in a calendar - note the course and amount of time you plan to study. Each day, you can make a list of the content you plan to cover and the strategies you'll use to study.
Exams come in lots of forms this year! Be ready for anything.
Make a list of all of your exams, and include the date and format (e.g., open-book, closed-book, proctored, take-home, in-person). Map out your exams on a calendar to understand your schedule and avoid any last-minute panic.
In-Person Exams: What to expect
- Mid-term exams are often held during class time in a lecture hall or classroom, and final exams are held during the formal exam period in the Athletic Centre or another large classroom.
- Common exam forms are multiple choice questions, which require you to complete a scantron form or immediate feedback (IF-AT) scratch cards; practical exams or bell-ringers, which usually take place in lab settings; and free-response questions, which require you to compose a response to an essay or short-answer prompt.
- When in the exam, one of the exam invigilators will announce guidelines for where to sit, what to do if you have a question, when you can and cannot leave, as well as any additional reminders before they instruct you to begin. Your professor and other exam invigilators typically sit at the front of the room. If you have a question, raise your hand to notify one of the invigilators.
- For in-person exams, students are required to bring their Trent student card with them as well as something to write with. Some exams may require you to use a pencil, so make sure you bring a few pencils and an eraser just in case. Students may bring additional personal belongings but will likely be asked to turn off all devices and leave their items at the front of the room.
Quick Tips for Online Exams
Online exams may be open-book or closed-book; they may also be proctored via video. They are usually timed. So, you’ll want to be sure you’ve considered your environment, time management, and the expectations for the exam.
- Try to create an environment that is distraction free where you can shut a door or use sound-cancelling headphones.
- Aim to work in a location with a strong internet signal, so you don’t need to worry about losing your connection.
- If your exam is proctored, be sure to remove notes that you may have posted on your walls, shut down and put away any additional devices or other aids that are not permitted during the exam.
- Know the protocols to follow if your tech fails or internet goes down during the exam.
- Know the expectations for your exam. Is the exam open or closed-book? Will there be video proctoring? If it is open-book, what sources can you access during the exam?
- Online exams often have a visible timer, which some students find distracting or stressful. Make a plan to allay some of the related anxiety.
- Calculate the time you have per question or section. For example, allocate 25 minutes for 25 multiple choice questions or 15 minutes for 3 short-answer questions that ask you to define and explain.
- Practice analyzing and writing exam questions with a timer, so the practice becomes more familiar.
Managing take-home exams
- Take-home exams are typically written over a few days and up to a week. Students may reference course materials to respond to free-response questions (i.e., short answer and essay questions). Time is the most common challenge students experience with this type of exam.
- Make a plan for each take-home exam. Map out all exams on a calendar to see if there is overlap between multiple exams.
- Don’t leave your exam to the day it is due. Try to work on it over a few days, leaving one day for revisions.
- Start by closely analyzing the instructions and the questions. Make specific reference to course materials and include citations for all sources.