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4 tips for surviving uni exams

We have all faced the dread of exams during A levels, but these top tips will stop you having to pull an all-nighter before your first uni exams.

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1. Lay off the caffeine


Everyone has a tendency to drink cups of coffee to stay alert during revision time, but it can leave you feeling sluggish the next day. I tend to get very energetic during the night after drinking coffee. And in the long run, it is not good for your health.

I used to drink two cups of coffee a day to get me through assignments and to keep myself awake at night. However, I found that I quickly got addicted to coffee and would be super exhausted during the day without it. I even dozed off during morning lectures on occasion and needed a coffee to stay awake – and the cycle continued.

When you are tired at night, a cup of coffee might help you boost your energy for a while, however you will find yourself having difficulty to concentrate in your studies because your body is already tired. In this case, you should stop whenever you are doing and go to sleep, as your body is telling you that you need to rest.

2. Avoid all-nighters

all nighters

It’s common to stay up at night trying to study and revise, and sleep seems like a waste of time. However, you should not stay up the night before your exam – especially if your exam is in the morning – because you will need enough energy to concentrate on your exam. Letting yourself get sleep deprived will make you unable to concentrate on answering your paper, and if you are really tired, you won’t be able to recall what you studied the night before!

I try to go to sleep really early the night before an exam, regardless what time my exam is at the next day.

3. Refuel properly


Unfortunately, it is common for students to skip meals or eat a lot of junk food while studying for their exams. In my high school, some of my friends even skipped eating in order to give themselves an additional 30 minutes to study. During my uni exams, I had course mates who were munching on biscuits or having takeaways for their lunch and dinner because they thought making their own meals was a waste of time – not to mention having to wash up after all the cooking!

But surviving only on takeaways is very unhealthy and you need a healthy body to ensure your best exam performance and concentration.

Try cooking simple meals if you are short of time – whole wheat pasta with broccoli is totally fine. You can munch on an apple or grapes as snacks while you are studying instead of crisps that give you nothing except empty calories. Cooking your meals between studying is also a good opportunity to take a break and relax. Your mind will freshen up after you have finished cooking and you will find yourself able to concentrate better when you resume your studies.

4. For open-book exams: don’t copy the textbook

open book

For Law, we have a few papers that are open-book which means we can bring printed materials like your textbook, lecture notes, statutes etc into the exam hall. This might sound exhilarating for most students because they don’t have to remember everything for the exam. However, exams at university are very different compared to exams in A levels or high school, and you cannot find answers directly from your textbook or notes. Instead, you need to understand and interpret the question before incorporating the information in your textbook into your answers, adding your own critical analysis.

Before an open-book exam, you should use your time to prepare your own summarised notes, so you won’t have to refer to the lengthy textbook during the exam.

Discover Law at Queen’s

Jia Xin Chang

LLB Law| 2nd year |Malaysia

I’m a 20-year-old Law student from Malaysia with a weird accent. I’m occasionally talkative, however I’m a natural introvert. I’m a lone ranger who enjoys her solitude and calmness, but I’m not anti-social. I’m a music lover and I play the piano, and constantly regret not picking up a second instrument when I was younger. I love singing but I’m not vocally trained. I don’t listen to any other music except rock - the heavier the better! Sometimes called weird by my friends, but I prefer to think of myself as unique. I have had an immense passion for writing ever since I was very young, and I write in both English and Chinese. I was the editor of my school bulletin and a student journalist during my high school days. I’m now a casual blogger and I enjoy my job (despite suffering from writer's block all the time). Welcome to my space. ;

Jia Xin Chang


Photo: Jia Xin Chang
Jia Xin Chang
Guest Blogger