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Important information and guidance

Revision and exams

What is the purpose of exams? 

  • Demonstrate ability to think critically and present arguments under
  • Understand material previously used and discussed in lectures
  • Provide evidence of reading and research
  • Present well structured information

An exam is - NOT about the ability to retain and regurgitate information, BUT ability to organise information into an argument. In other words, an exam is NOT a memory test.

What types of exam are there? Generally there are…Studentswithlaptop239x171, Students sat working on Laptops

  • multiple choice exam / short answer exam
  • analysis of a case study
  • seen exam
  • unseen exam
  • open book


Unseen Exam- An unseen exam is a time-constrained assessment task, presented to students for the first time at the beginning of the assessment. Unseen exams are usually hand-written and last two to three hours. They are sometimes required by professional bodies.

Seen Exam – A seen exam is a time-constrained assessment task, presented to students at some time in advance of the assessment. The actual exam is still taken under strict conditions, with no external material allowed into the exam room and a time limit for completing the answers.

Open book exam – An open books exam is a time constrained unseen exam where students can bring in books or folders. 

Planning for your first exam or assessment at University?

Do you wait until the week before exams, and then start to prepare? Or do you wait until the night before your actual exam? Leaving your preparation this late means that you’re likely to feel very stressed and unlikely to get the grade than you really deserve. Don’t leave it too late!

This resource might help if you are worried about how to prepare and how you will cope on the day of the exam. This presentation aims to help you gain a better understanding of how anxiety or stress can affect your academic performance and what tools you need to overcome those emotions. You will also pick up tips from students on their revision techniques and exam strategies.

Remember – it is up to you to find out:

  1. When are your exams?
    Dates and times
  2. Duration
    How long is the exam?
  3. Location
    Where is the exam being held? How will you get there?
  4. Scope
    How much of the course does the exam cover? Which learning outcomes?
  5. Format
    What type of exam is it? What will you be asked to do?
  6. Marking criteria
    How much is each question worth?
  7. Equipment
    What do you need for the exam?
    Pen, spare pen, calculator, notes? Anything else?

    ManagingExams, 'Managing Exams' text on a purple rectangle And don’t forget to:
    Read the questions carefully.
    Allow time to read the paper carefully and allocate time for each question, along with time at the end to review your answers. 

    Learn Higher has more information and resources:
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