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Blog: My top tips for preparing for assessments

by University of Liverpool Library on 2021-12-20T09:47:00+00:00 | Comments

Woman studying at a desk with a laptop and notebook

The KnowHow student team have created a series of blogs to help you prepare for the upcoming assessment period. The first blog is by Tori, a second year law student at the University of Liverpool. 

I’m Tori and I’m in my second year of studying Law. I previously completed a degree in International Relations where most of my classes incorporated history and political science. I’ve done lots of assessments so far, from sitting in a gym answering multiple-choice questions or writing essays from memory in two hours, to week-long take-home exams.

I’ve included below some of my top tips for preparing for assessments, separated into general tips and style-specific.

General

  • Take breaks and don’t feel bad about them! Forcing yourself to sit in front of your notes when you’re feeling burnt out is so unproductive. My most successful assessment periods have been the ones where I spent lots of time with my friends and got work done when I was high-energy.
  • I have found that the environment where I revise makes a huge difference for my productivity. I’m most productive in the library or a café and need to switch locations a couple of times if I’m doing a long day of revision.
  • I’ve recently started using a productivity app called Flora and I love it! The app lets you input how long you’d like to focus for, and it grows you an adorable virtual tree if you don’t use your phone for that period of time – but if you use your phone, your tree will die. I don’t usually have trouble staying off my phone, but I find the virtual garden rewarding enough that it gives me that extra boost of motivation.
  • Prioritise your well-being! Eating well, drinking lots of water, getting a good sleep, and exercising are all part of keeping your mind sharp.

Style of assessment

Essay style assessment

  • Consolidate your notes ahead of time: It’s easy to delay revision until the week you’re supposed to be writing the assessment, but you are doing your future self a huge favour if you consolidate your notes in advance. That way, you will have already reflected on the major themes and gotten to grips with the material, so you can use most of the week on writing the assessment rather than revising.
  • Prepare draft answers: Sometimes you’ll be given a list of possible questions ahead of time, so you’ll be able to prepare specific answers and come up with a pretty developed argument. If you aren’t given a list of possible questions, you can still usually guess what the topics will be based on the themes focused on in seminars and debates introduced in lectures, so you can prepare outline answers for those topics.
  • Set goals: It can be quite daunting to think, “I have to write this whole thing in one week.” Setting smaller goals for each day of the week will help you focus your efforts and make the best use of your time e.g. “I will have the outline done by Monday”, “I will have the first draft done by Wednesday”, “I will spend the last day editing the final draft”
  • Do proper referencing as you go: I have had a super inconvenient habit of not properly formatting my references until the very end, which is such a tedious task to complete when you should be done. Properly referencing as you write is much more efficient and much less annoying. Check with your school to see what they expect in terms of referencing.

Multiple-choice/short answer assessment

  • Use Quizlet: Quizlet has gotten me through every single multiple-choice exam! It’s a website where you can make virtual flashcards and test your knowledge on them through different activities. It is SUCH a game-changer.
  • Be creative: Trying creative and engaging study methods will really help you remember key information. For example, for history exams, I like to make a timeline of major events using sticky notes on my wall. I try taking them off and putting them back in the correct order from memory. This really helps me commit key events to memory while reflecting on what I know about them, and I’m much more likely to retain this information since the activity is so engaging.

The KnowHow team are offering sessions on preparing for assessment – find out more and book your place.

You can also access their online tutorial ‘Preparing for online assessment’ on the KnowHow: Study for Success Canvas course.


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