Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Revision and examinations
Revision and examinations

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2 Identifying key concerns

Each one of us has a different set of concerns about preparing for and taking exams. It is worth spending a little time reflecting on these concerns and identifying what your individual needs are, in order to set up good support strategies for yourself.

Activity 1

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes.
  • Whether or not you have had past experiences of taking exams, jot down your main feelings and concerns about revision and taking an exam.
  • Now have a look at the following comments, made by other students, and put a mark by any that echo your feelings.
Student commentsStrategySee Section
On revision
I leave revision to the last minute and then get in a flap.Plan your revision.3
I just read and re-read my notes but they don’t stick.Try some new understanding and learning strategies.3
I’m never sure where to start revising.Use Activity 2 as a starting point.3
I don’t know when to start revising.Make a revision timetable.3
I don’t have much time to revise.Try to set aside time slots each day.3
I’m not sure my notes will be easy to revise from.Try making summary sheets, cards or posters.3
It’s hard to concentrate at home.Make a good working space.3
I don’t know if I’ll have enough time to cover all the topics.Select what you cover by looking carefully at the course material and questions. Make a revision timetable.3
There are so many other things on my mind.Talk to someone if problems mean revision is very difficult.6
As the exam gets closer I get too nervous to revise.Try an anxiety management or relaxation technique.5
On taking the exam
I sometimes rush in and start a question and realise afterwards there were questions I could have done better.Read through the whole paper and choose carefully.4
I just can’t remember things when I’m in the exam.Try some memory strategies during revision3
I tend to spend ages on a favourite question, and then have almost no time for the last question.Make a quick time plan at the start of the exam - have your watch handy.4
Everything just spills out in a disorganised way.Make a quick plan for each question.4
I often panic when I get into the exam room, and my mind goes blank.Work on relaxation.5
I’m no good at exams, I always let myself down.Try positive self-talk techniques, e.g. I can do it!5
I haven’t taken an exam in years.Set yourself a ‘mock’ exam at home.3
My handwriting will be unreadablePractise writing at speed regularly.3


Alongside the comments are some suggested strategies for tackling these difficulties. Each strategy is covered by one of the sections of this course. The third column contains the number of the section relevant to that strategy. Your own comments on your concerns may not be listed here, but you may find them addressed through the many other ideas contained in this course.

The strategies we have outlined can help, as the following comments from students who have tried them indicate.

  1. Making a plan made me feel I had some control and could cope.
  2. Using a mind-map as a different way of planning a question was incredibly helpful to me.
  3. Arranging a lift by car to the exam centre was the best thing I did - I had been so worried I would spend ages parking and be late!