How to prepare for different types of exams
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How to prepare for different types of exams

How to prepare for different types of exams

Gearing up for exam season isn’t always easy.

Whether your student room has been taken over by bright sticky notes or you’ve committed yourself to long study sessions in the library, make sure that you aren’t neglecting your mental or physical health.

But before you overload your brain with new concepts, theories and data, it’s a great idea to establish the key differences between exam styles.

Often, students get distracted by memorising information for exams and forget to acknowledge the exam’s awaited structure and expectations.

To help guide you through, here are the common types, matched together with preparation tips.

Multiple choice exams

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Multiple choice questions usually include a phrase or stem followed by three to five options. Source: Ferenc Horvath/ Unsplash

Just as it sounds, multiple choice exams present students with an array of answers.

Your job is to simply pair the questions with the correct answers, answering either true or false or ticking boxes.

But how do you prepare for this type of exam if you have no idea what the questions will be or the potential answers?

Well, if you already know the study area, you can come up with a list of questions that you might suspect will arise. Even if they aren’t word-for-word, think back to previous lectures and seminars and correlate previous topics with suspected questions.

By practising with sample questions, you’ll also become familiar with the exam style and begin to integrate your course materials.

Problem or case-based exams

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Project-based assessments allow students to engage with their learning in more concrete ways. Source: Kaleidico/ Unsplash

For these types of exams, you’ll need to get your analytical skills churning.

Falling into categories such as graphic interpretation questions, estimation questions, theoretical client questions and brain teaser questions, it’s tricky to know which one you’ll get given.

Typically, you’ll be given a case study or scenario to configure and it will be your task to respond to that with a solution or a well-thought-out opposition angle.

To prepare, reflect upon the previous themes that featured in your recent lectures. Once you’ve targeted a few of them, download relevant case studies/problem questions from the internet to practice with.

Make sure to time yourself while answering them and keep doing so until you’re comfortable with this exam style!

Oral exams

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The oral exam is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your knowledge, your speaking skills, as well as your ability to communicate. Source: NEON Brand/ Unsplash

Commonly used for language exams, oral exams enable you to express your communication skills and presentation skills to the examiner.

Pairing up with fellow students and taking turns to have conversations with each other will enhance your know-how and allow you to refine your accent/answers.

Recording yourself presenting an answer or speaking in another language would also permit you to self-assess before the examination begins and note down any areas of improvement.

Remember to view your answers through the examiner’s eyes and to tailor your response to the specific subject areas.

Open-book and take-home exams

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Take home exams or open book exams- you do at home. Source: Andrew Neel/ Unsplash

These might sound easy and open to cheating, however, take-home/ open-book exams bring a lot more complexity to the table.

By typing up your answers and researching the topic at home, you’ll be given longer and harder questions to de-tangle.

If your answers sound robotic or there’s a hint of plagiarism, don’t expect to be making the grade.

Therefore, these exams reflect both your character and your study knowledge, so think about both all angles before you consider the easy option!

Essay exams

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Essay exams require more than just knowledge, they also require students to demonstrate their analytical skills. Source: Patrick Tomaso/ Unsplash

Similar to case study questions, essay exams present you with a topic/question to present a detailed conclusion for.

If your professor has given you a sneak peek into the proposed selection of questions, prepare by summarising your points into bullet points so that you follow a natural structure.

If you rush this exam or forget to prepare, the lack of framework could let you down.

So, store a healthy supply of content in your mind and make sure to link back to the question every step of the way!

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