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Education & Development

How do you prepare for an assessment?

Updated Wednesday 6th December 2017

What must you do to complete a successful assessment? Laurence Knell gives us the lowdown...

Whether you love it or loathe it, assessment is one of those things that anyone studying will have to cope with at some point.   And let’s face it… not many people “love” assessment!

So what are the various forms of assessment?  Depending on your course you might encounter some or all of the following types:

  • A quiz
  • An assignment
  • An exam
  • A demonstration
  • A report
  • A presentation

Apart from these more standard approaches it is also possible that you will be assessed on your level of participation throughout the course.

So how should you prepare for assessment?  On a certain level it depends on the type of assessment and how you will be expected to complete it.  So, for example, preparing for a written exam would be quite different to preparing a research presentation.

Nonetheless, when it comes to assessments of any form there are key things you must always think about.

First, you must be clear on the format of the assessment.  A 30-minute long multiple choice quiz completed online will require a different approach to a formal, written exam completed over three hours at an exam centre.  Multiple choice quizzes can often be much easier for non-native speakers of English as the focus is more on reading and comprehension than on writing and expression while for written exams it is the other way around.  You will also need to prepare differently for each type of assessment, depending on the format.  So, if in doubt ask be sure to ask exactly how you will be assessed.

Second, you must be clear on the criteria of the assessment.  Are you being assessed purely on your knowledge of facts or are you being assessed on your ability to apply theories or frameworks?  Learning facts is actually surprisingly easy, but thinking about how to apply them is much harder and even harder still to discuss and describe in a language other than your own.

Third, where possible you should review previous assessments.  By having past exam papers, for example, you can practice and become comfortable with the language of the questions and instructions, and understand what will be required of you on the day.

Fourth, you must prepare.  As the saying goes, “If you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail”.  In other words, if you do noot take the time to get ready for the exam then chances are you will not do as well as you otherwise could have.  In practical terms what this means is that you must do a number of basic things:

  • Revise the course material… and then revise again, and again, and again
  • Use active approaches to revision – reading is ok up to a point, but you should also take thorough notes and ensure to also test yourself with questions or maybe even ask a friend to do so
  • Practice under “exam conditions”.  If you know that you will need to write answers to two questions by hand over the course of an hour, then that is exactly what you should practice.

Last, but not least, enjoy the assessment!  Whether it is an exam, a quiz or a presentation assessments are just a way for you to demonstrate all the knowledge that you have gained during your studies.  If you are relaxed and enjoy the process your brain will function more effectively and it is more likely that you will succeed!

Ultimately, success in assessment of any kind is up to you.  While your teachers can help and guide, unless you put in the hard work yourself chances are you will never succeed.

Good luck, enjoy your studies and have fun with the assessments!

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

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