Home » Blog @english » Exams- three things every student needs to know about passing exams.

Have you got an exam coming up? Or are you planning to go off to university and you know there will be lots of exams over the next few years? Then read on.

You know what exams are for, of course. They are there to make sure the University only gives out qualifications to people who know their stuff. People who have been to the lectures, studied their subject, and deserve to get their degree. They’re also designed to split the students into groups, with higher or lower level degrees, depending on how well they perform.

So here’s the first piece of advice. It’s obvious, but to pass your exams you need to know your subject! You need to do the work, read the books, think about the theories, and study the data. You need to do this from Day One of your studies, because if you leave it to just before the exam, or perhaps to the couple of months before the exam, you won’t stand a chance. Trouble is, University is fun! New people, new place, new freedoms. It’s really too easy to let the work slip. So if you are serious about the exams, build work into your daily schedule before you allocate time to the fun things.

Next, think about revision. This is the process of revisiting stuff you already know, to make sure you are in a position to answer questions about it. You need to plan your revision, and start it early. In fact you should be revising in month two the things you learned in month one! That’s right; it takes several runs through new information for the average student to absorb most of it. By the time you get to your exams you should have read through your summary notes many times.

So, finally, you’ve done the work, attended the lectures, and revised your notes as you went along. Only the exam remains between you and the grade you want. You will have already found out the basics of exam technique.  You know you have to read the questions thoroughly, allocate your time between sections of the exam in proportion to the marks available, write legibly, and so on, and on..

But here’s something you may not have heard, and may not even believe.  You need to be fresh and eager if you want to do well. You won’t be fresh and eager if you revise the night before the exam. In fact you should stop revising and do something else, preferably something physical, for three days before your exam. Close your books, go for long walks, ride your bike. Any revision you do the night before your exam will result in you being tired and a bit confused when you start to write. And keep away from your fellow students, especially if they are indulging in last minute panic-stimulated revision.

If you’re not a native English-speaker, and you’re going off to an English-speaking university, you’ve got to do everything I’ve already mentioned, plus read and write in one of the world’s most subtle languages. Now, the AIM team can’t help you with the work, the revision, or the exams, of course, but they certainly can make sure that your command of English is a strength, and not another worry for you.

That’s why they say “Your future starts here”!


An English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course from Aim will help to make sure you’re ready to take on the challenge of studying at an English-speaking university. For more, click: Academic English Courses from Aim

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