June 8, 2017, by Chloe

Reflections on University Exams

Currently, I’m writing this blog post to procrastinate revising for my final exam of my first year. Reflecting on nearly reaching the end of my second exam season at Nottingham, here are some of the things I wish I’d known before starting exams:

Past papers are not as great as they used to be

During A-Levels particularly, we were encouraged to do every past paper we could get our hands on. For AS Maths I probably did each paper at least twice. Now, I’m not saying university past papers aren’t still useful, but just not to the same extent, at least for art degrees. Unlike A-Level past papers, you don’t get 15 years worth of past papers to have a stab at – there’s rarely more than 3 years worth, if you’re lucky. Some modules don’t have them at all. Even if there are past papers, the module might have changed completely in structure so the questions no longer reflect the content you studied. This doesn’t mean there’s no guidance at all anymore; seminar questions and lecture topics are just sometimes more of a useful guide to exam questions at university level.

Saturday exams exist

When you consider how many exams the university has to fit in within the space of a few weeks, fair enough Saturday exams make sense. But as a student desperate to unwind at Ocean Friday (which was free during exams), this timetabling seems especially cruel.

University exams will go better than you think 

I like to think I can handle exam stress well. During A-Levels I think I only had one major meltdown walking out of the exam (WIN). Yet, there is something daunting about sitting university level exams for the first time, mainly because the process seems alien. I’d sat exams January but only for subsidiary modules, so sitting real history exams this semester seemed terrifying. But it’s important to remember that in order to get to university you have probably done well in exams before. In reality, university exams aren’t that much different to ones you’ve sat before. You will be able to cope.

This is just my reflections on a few things I’ve noticed this year. Maybe in second year I’ll find the whole process to be different again when my marks start counting towards my degree! I hope everyone’s exams have gone well so far – summer is nearly here!!!

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