The Skills Pod

Reassessment for exams

July 17, 2020 Study Skills
The Skills Pod
Reassessment for exams
Show Notes Transcript

Join Jen and Liz for a podcast on reassessment for exams on 'The Skills Pod'. Grab your cup of tea and biscuit, sit back and relax whilst Liz and Jen give you tips and hints to take you through the reassessment process for exams.
 


 Running order of the Re-assessment for exams podcast 

·       Reflect on exam score/ could you have done anything different to your knowledge?

·       Planning for the exam

·       Study key points 

·       Understanding, identifying and breaking down the exam

·       Timing and pacing yourself 

·       Proofreading and checking

·       Use all the time you have available 

Jennifer :

Hello, welcome to The Skills Pod. A series of podcasts to support your skills development, brought to you by the Study Skills Advisory Team. Hello, and welcome to the reassessment for exams podcast. And today you have Jennifer Harper, which is myself and Liz Johnson. Hello. And we're going to have a little chat and sit down, have a cup of tea and we're just going to talk about that reassessment process, but from an exam perspective. So the first thing we're kind of going to look at his, you know, that reflection process of when you've had that exam result. And obviously, if you're going through the reassessment process, it's probably not been what you expected it to be. Or you might have failed at that point or just fallen short. So it's really important that you spend that time initially to reflect and think about Okay, is there anything I could have done differently? Did I spend enough time maybe revising, and just go through that reflective process. Wouldn't you agree, Liz?

Liz :

I would definitely. And I'd also have a think about how it actually went in the exam. I don't know about you, but one exam that I did many years ago, I actually had a panic attack in the middle of the exam, and I couldn't really do anything. I just froze. So by the time I got myself together, and started to go through the things that I could do, I didn't have enough time to be able to recoup the time that I'd lost. Things happen, we're all human, you have a bad day or you get in there and your mind goes blank. So reflect on what happened before the exam, reflect on the actual exam itself, and think about what you could do differently. If you knew then what you know now, how would you go into the experience? What would you do to try and get a different outcome because what you're going to do when you go for your reassessment for an exam, so you might want to see the planning experience. Did you set aside enough time to look at all the subjects? Was it an open book exam? Did you know what it was going to be on? Or was it something where you had a choice of maybe eight or 10 subjects that could have been on and you maybe didn't revise all of them. So have a look at this process of elimination of figuring out the things that you can do so that reassessment isn't an onerous task. It's something that you can set aside plan for make time for and go into the exam feeling comfortable and confident. Because that way, you're likely to have a more beneficial outcome and it will be a positive experience.

Jennifer :

I think as well for me from like, personal experience, if you think about planning the exam and reflecting, I've even to this day, I find the exams quite stressful. But I'm now at to kind of go, Okay, that's maybe not focused on the overall exam, but try and break it down and focus on the structural aspects. So I try to use it to my advantage in the sense of breaking it down into those little subsections and analysing what might need to be included in like my time, which we'll discuss a little bit further on. But I think, as Liz said, when you think about planning the exam and reflecting about how it's gone, and if you could have done anything differently, it's taken that opportunity to maybe think, Okay, well, my reassessment date for the exam is six weeks away from today, it might be four, it might be two, and then start planning and organising time on there is another podcast that discusses independent learning and time management. So it might be a case of you want to have a look at your time management and your planning skills to help and assist with the revision process as well. And that will ensure that you are covering all these key points that you're going to need for your exam. And that's going to be helpful later on then when you're planning and structuring your exam in the actual exam process,

Liz :

That is so true, they have done quite a few different small little evaluations on how people learn and how the information is retained in your memory. They actually did an experiment with sets of twins, and they found that there was once one half of the twins were given two and a half hours over a week, so half an hour per evening to do some studying. And then there was a test at the end. And the other side of the twins, they were given two and a half hours all in one night the night before the exam in order to do what was effectively last minute cramming. And the ones that had the last minute cramming the two and a half hours the night before didn't do as well as the ones who'd had half an hour per night because there was that drip feed, there was that pacing and the information could be gone over and over again. And, and it gave people confidence in what they were learning. It wasn't panic, try to get it all in and see what comes out. It was learning incrementally and building on the skills that they've got. So if you can look at managing your time, it's going to put you in a much stronger position to feel you're able and capable. The exam that I was talking about before was the first time I hadn't felt happy or comfortable going into an exam. I used to quite enjoy exams, which might sound a little perverse to some people but a little bit. It's weird, I'm sorry. I always quite liked the stress of exams. And that one exam I went into, I hadn't prepared for the things that I knew I wasn't going to be able to do. I had prepared for the things that I knew I was going to be able to which sounds strange, but I didn't know how to do the things I didn't know how to do. So if you don't know how to do something, you have to figure it out. Otherwise, when you get into a situation where you need to put it down into writing, you're never going to be able to do it, you're just going to be stumbling around, and then it's going to make you feel insecure, and it's gonna make you feel vulnerable. So try to get rid of that vulnerability, try to manage your time try to plot what's realistic, and what are the topics that you potentially need to look at? And what are the areas that you need to focus on looking at in depth and pulling out understanding of in order for you to be able to get it together in the exam? So you know, you might be looking at who said what, why is it important? What are the implications? Some of the studying key points, you might have gone through your notes already and you've got bits that are highlighted. Highlighting can be useful, but it doesn't necessarily suit everybody's learning style. So if you can do something with that, if you've highlighted it go through, look at it, make active notes at the side, put them on index cards, maybe have some sort of picture that you draw that's going to spark your memory and make connections. So that you're not just looking at something that you've already written or that you've got on a computer screen, you're doing something with it. And that's going to put it into the long term memory as opposed to just leaving it your short term memory and relying on that in the exam.

Jennifer :

And I think those are really important points. And I completely agree that distributed kind of revision process is really going to help you to have those reflective moments and make those connections and links with everything you're going to need within the exam. And this is completely right, that will then enable you to transfer the information over from your short term memory to your long term memory. And that's going to be helpful to assist you when you then go into the exam. And then you need to really think about and try to identify and understand how you're going to break down the exam in the actual exam. So you kind of as Liz has said, when she was feeling anxious, she maybe didn't go in with a plan at that time. But if you think about an exam overall you need to be going in, you'll know what amount of time you're going to have, be able to roughly see how many questions you've got once you started the exam. And it's about breaking that process down. Think about how much time you've got, think how many questions you've got, and try and divide that. You also will might possibly be able to see how many marks you'll get per question. If you've been given three marks for a question, they probably want three key points or three elements within that question, and its answer. So it's thinking about that as well. Sometimes it's not about just answering the questions, have I put enough information in the answer of the question to gain all of those marks that have been allocated to it. And it's about that pacing and timing process as well. Be aware of how much time you've got. Again, as I said before, exams are not my forte. And what used to happen to me and I could take this right back to high school. I would start an exam, and I would get stuck on a question. And I would stay on that question. And I would waste time because I need to answer this question before I move on. And that's probably a lack of planning and experience to go okay, right, I spent enough time on this question, I need to move forward and look at other stuff. And if I have time at the end, I can go back to that and check it as well. And I suppose is that unnerving process as well, when you say had a two hour exam, and the person sat next to you has got up after 20 minutes, and has left and then you're like, oh, no they've done it all in 20 minutes. Just remember what you do, or what they've done in their exam, which you shouldn't know. But you don't know what the quality is, they might have done really well. And they might not have. But what you've got to think of is use all of that time that you've been allocated for the exam you should be checking you should be proofreading what you've put. See if you can add anything else. What would you say Liz?

Liz :

I would agree completely. Going back to what you were talking about before Jennifer about getting stuck on a question. I would read the exam paper through, then read it through again, before I started to write anything. And I would work out what order I wanted to do the questions in. I don't think I ever started at the beginning of the book, or the first question and finished with the last I always did them out of order. And it was the ones that I thought were going to be the most straightforward to answer. I would get those done so that the ones that I thought might be problematic or that I would need more time to plan organise, think about, I could allocate that time to later once I'd got some of the things that I thought would be straightforward out of the way. And it is it's the organisation beforehand, the familiarity with your subject matter, getting into the exam, and having the right frame of mind and having been able to manage the stress beforehand. So sleep is something that's important. If you're stressed and you're worried at the last minute and you're trying to cram potentially you're not going to have the best night's sleep in the world that you've ever had. So if you can do little and often, that night before feeling isn't going to be quite so intense. So if you've had a realistic timetable, where you planned in to do physical exercise to get rid of the excess adrenaline potentially that you know you're worrying about the exam is getting closer, if you can go out, go for a walk, do something to get rid of a bit of that adrenaline that's going to help you to relax. Something that I've found in actual exams that helps is on the pad of your thumb. If you massage one thumb into the pad of where the thumb comes out of the palm of your hand that actually can help alleviate stress. It's an acupressure point, I believe. And that's something that that people do, you might find that the pressure points by the side of your eyes or in between your eyes on the bridge of your nose can help you if you're in the exam and you're worried and you feel as though you can't concentrate. It can be a way to bring your focus back on to the here and now instead of panicking or worrying. Something else you could do grip your hands really tightly make fists as tight as you can, and then release them and it's having little tricks and tips that work for you. It might be deep breathing exercises, it could be just breathing through your nose and out through your mouth. But if you try some of these things before the exam, nobody's going to be looking at you, you might sit there thinking I can or can't do that everybody's going to be staring at you, everybody's too worried about what they themselves are doing, they're not going to be looking at what anybody else is doing. So find something that works for you practice it a bit beforehand. And then if you need to in the exam, if you've got these methods, then you'll be able to use them and they'll be able to calm you and you'll be able to get that focus back, which is what we're trying to do to give you a way to keep your focus throughout the physical exam so that you bring out all the things that you wanted to do. All the knowledge that's in your head has got a way to come out, and you've got a way of controlling the information that you want to put down in writing.

Jennifer :

I completely agree and I was just sat here thinking about my old exam experiences and maybe why they were successful and not successful. I was just thinking about, it probably does come in two parts. It's that distributed learning and revision for the exam, again, in that assessment process, or maybe you say, three, how you are in the exam? Well, that personal preparation, I like that because thinking about it, again, for me, when I've looked at exams, and they've not really gone very well, I probably try to cram information the night before, which I think if I know myself as person, which again goes back to that drawing on your strengths and weaknesses, having a full night's sleep the night before is going to make you a lot more alert. And I completely agree Liz that going for the energy drink or sugar rush. Again, I as a young learner was probably really guilty of that, but I probably thought of it. It's like, I'll get myself pumped and ready for this exam. And if I get my adrenaline going, I'll be really into it. But then what happened is I had the sugar crash, halfway through the exam, and then I'll probably panic or what I have done in the past, and I think definitely is that trying to stay as calm as possible because if you're calm, your brain is going to function a lot better. And you're gonna be able to draw that information that you've then been revising for. And I don't know about you there's but I, when I was doing exams, or even probably now I have a bit of a thing about knowing where I'm going and being places on time. So if you are a bit worried about that, or you're prone to getting lost or distracted, I would say I call it like a reccy road. You do this in all aspects of life, not just for exams, job interviews and different things like that. do recommend find out where you're going to be just familiarise yourself with maybe the room you're going to be in and that's really going to help that any exam anxiety that you might have. And be there early as well and on time and try and have that good breakfast and I think that process of keeping as calm as possible. When you go in get you get you see through pencil case all set up. You know, a couple of days before because again, that would be something I would be guilty about, like, I haven't got a see through pencil case, and I need a certain pen, I need a certain rubber. So it's again, trying to stay as calm as possible. And then follow those tips and, you know, strategies to kind of break down the exam and, you know, think about how you could have done things differently and use that. I think that's the biggest thing isn't, this whole process is reflect, use what you've learned to then make the next attempt better. And just try and stay as calm as possible. And I think an exam in its entirety is a bit of a skill. I know as two individuals, Liz loves exams, and I'm really not an exam person. But maybe that's just our experiences have been different, but the more you try at it, like I said before, again, the exam process itself, I'm still not too keen on, but now I'm able to detach from that and think okay, what other structural aspects I need to do within an exam. And that keeps me calm enough to be able to hit those points of what that assessment process is. And so it might be helpful to tackle it or think about it in that frame of mind.

Liz :

It's quite interesting what you were saying earlier about the physical exam room, that's something that we don't always take into consideration. And exam rooms tend to be quite big halls they're quite often quite cold. So if you're prone to being cold, and you're in a room that that's cold nnyway, you might want to take a cardigan with you, you take a jumper or whatever, I always found that the space would be quite echoey and you get different acoustics and dynamics in there. So if you're used to revising or looking at the work in an environment that's noisy or an environment where you've got headphones on, or if you only ever study, sitting at your desk with your light on or sitting on your bed whatever it might be, if you then go into an exam space and it's completely different, and you in an echo hall and you're surrounded by people who were coughing, moving in the chairs, dropping things on the floor, then it can disrupt your frame of mind in your concentration. So bear that in mind when you revise and try not to always revise in the same place at the same time with the same lighting, do it in different places, because then your brain gets used to accessing that information anywhere and everywhere. It's not oh I can't do it because I'm so much different and and it's another barrier. I tend to have loads of adrenaline pumping through my body when I go into exams and they tend to get very hot. So it's good that most examples tend to be freezing cold because I'm usually boiling hot. So it sounds daft. But thinking about all these practicalities, as Jennifer said, if you think beforehand, do a reccy road, get your pencil case out, work out what favourite pen is all the sorts of things that do impact on our, on how we work, how we do, how well we are, how confident we feel, how comfortable we feel, what comes out of our brain because of these outside influences that all impact on us internally and how we are able to move forward. So it is good to think about those things, and have a way of being kind to yourself and making life as easy as possible because exams are stressful. You don't want to put more barriers in the way that are just going to throw you off and then give you another layer of things to think about and process you want to minimise the things you need to process minimise everything that's going on your head so you can just concentrate on getting that information out in whatever way you need to to answer the question. Make sure you've not gone off on a tangent. Make sure you've put in as many things as you can use the time that you've got available. And sometimes you do run out of time. And sometimes that's a good thing because it means that you've got more things to say than you thought and that informations just flowing and coming out. If you've allocated your time and made some kind of a plan, if you haven't got to the end of that, but you've got a plan there, then the lecturer, the marker can see exactly where you were going and what you were going to do with it. So that means that they can see your train of thought and they know what was in your head even though it didn't all have time to come out on paper, or on a computer. So yeah, think about the planning process and make your life as easy as possible for a stressful situation.

Jennifer :

Absolutely, and thinking about making life as easy as possible and a couple more personal things kind of popped to mind. And I was thinking, it's a bit like being a small child when you go on a long car journey and as soon as you get in the car, I need the toilet. So make sure you go the bathroom because I've definitely sat an exam and got distracted. With going, I probably don't need the bathroom. But now I'm going to fixate on that and not the exam and take some water as well. Also, I probably spent an exam going, I'm really thirsty. It's a bit like make sure you have a coat or jacket, if you are cold. And so again, alleviating any process that might distract you is going to be really beneficial. But no, I think it's a case of identifying all these points really, and trying to use them to your advantage as you go back into that exam process. But remember, there's lots of other podcasts available on time management and planning, but also on the revision process. And what I would say is, if you really want to talk to one of us study skills, you can contact us at LTI skills@chester.ac.uk. And we will be really more than happy to come and help whether that be online or come for a face to face one to one.

Liz :

So one last thing to remember If you have the chance, go back and do some practice essays beforehand, practice on the timeframe because it can be quite easy to overrun. So if you've got an hour, if you've got two hours, whatever it is, set yourself down, have a look at some of the past papers, maybe have a look at the assignment you did in the exam. And if you need to do that, again, if that's going to be the same thing, set practices, again, run through it, because then you've got the structure in your mind, then you've got the timeframe, and you've gone through and seeing what you can do. The important thing to remember with an exam is it's not like writing an assessment. You don't have the time to go back and refine and refine it is going to be quite a raw process. So the more you can get down in the timeframe you've got, the more potential you've got to get marks for the things that you've said. So go through practice essays, look at past papers, have a look at what you are able to do. And if it's too intimidating, or it's too much for you to sit down and do an hour, then practice those questions individually and say, right, I'm going to give myself 20 minutes to answer this one question and see what I can do. And then do it again. And again, it is like anything, it's the more practice you have, the more familiar you're going to be and the easier it's going to end up being in the long run.

Jennifer :

And I think that is the end of the podcast for today on reassessment for exams. And thank you for listening and hopefully we can assist you in the future from Study Skills.

Liz :

Good luck in the exams and practice and practice all you can

Jennifer :

All the best bye Transcribed by https://otter.ai