Exam advice for Geographers

Exams are only a few weeks away  so here are a few tips from my own experience to succeeding in geography exams. I don’t know how different geography exams are to other subjects, however some aspects of this post may be beneficial to those studying other degrees. If you are like me, a person who revises a lot, then gets very nervous and stressed in the actual exam, these tips will hopefully help a lot.

References and citations.
For essay-based Geography exams, you need to show you have done a substantial amount of reading around the lecture content to get higher than a 2:2. Hence you also need to be able to remember the author(s) of the reading and the associated content – its very easy to forget names and dates or get them confused during the exam, which makes you more stressed.

As you read and make notes on various articles and book chapters, make sure you keep the content of the article/book attached the the author’s name in your mind. Collate all your readings onto a summary list of the author(s) names and date and a quick sentence the contents. This way you can start to memorise the authors names and dates and link them to the correct content in your mind. It helps to get a friend to test you on the names and dates, and what they talked about. Last year my housemate made this quite fun by making weird but memorable links, for example Orton (2008) can be remembered because an Octopus has 8 tentacles, or Jaffe (1992) can be remembered because Jaffa Cakes were invented in 1992 (even though they weren’t).

Not getting too nervous/stressed before the exam

Firstly make sure you have done all you need to do at least half a day before the exam. Use the time to relax your mind, get rid of negative thoughts and read through your notes for a final time. The trick now is to avoid things that would make you stressed.

– Double check you know exactly where and when  your exam will be
– Don’t talk to your course mates about what they have revised – they will have slightly different knowledge to you depending on what they’ve been reading, and this will probably stress you out
– Get to the exam venue at least half an hour early, aim for even earlier if you are catching the bus during the rush hour. Bring some notes to read, its better to be super early than late
– Make sure you’ve got the correct equipment for the exam, with extra pens and pencils just in case
– Follow all the instructions the exam people tell you, especially the rule about your mobile phone being turned off and put in the plastic bag
– Remember your student ID card and remember to put it on the desk in the exam

Surviving the exam
You’ve probably heard these tips before but they are so important.

  • Keep writing, dont stop for more than 15 seconds or so to remember something – a reference for example. In first year exams lecturers don’t mind so much if you don’t include, or include the wrong reference, as long as the content is different to lecture content.
  • Spend the same amount of time on each question – if they are worth equal marks.
  • Plan first – spend about 3-5 minutes making a few bullet points or a brainstorm to get down your ideas for answering the question, and a suitable structure
  • Read the question: lecturers always say this, but what they don’t say enough is that its vital to keep going back and reading the question as you write. This means you will make your answer consistently relevant and your concluding points should contain the same words as the question.
  • Finish with 5 minutes to read over your answers and check spelling, grammar etc.

I hope you have found these tips useful and good luck in your exams! As always feel free to comment with any questions 🙂


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About Caroline

Hey! I'm Caroline and I'm in my second year studying BSc Geography. I have a strong interest in environmental issues and enjoy music, art and volunteering outside of studying. I'll be blogging about my course and life at Leicester as well as proving that Geography isn't just colouring in maps!

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