Final assessments are just around the corner. Read on to discover some key tips to help you build a strategy to successfully complete your end of semester assessments!

First of all, begin by giving yourself a pat on the back for making it this far. By this point, you’ve managed to navigate completing your studies or research from home, as well as doing your best to keep mentally and physically healthy during this COVID-19 situation. You’ve now made it to Swot Vac, and there’s one final hurdle to go before finishing the semester, and that is – taking your final assessments!

End of semester assessments are taking a few different forms at Monash this semester. These range from from non-timed assessments, take home exams, to timed eExams with or without supervision. Some will be closed-book assessments, while others will be open-book assessments. 

Now is the time to get yourself ready, with practical and effective things you can do to prepare for a range of assessments. The following advice will provide you with tips on how to excel at your timed final assessments.

Successfully completing your timed final assessments requires more than just knowing your course content. The other vital component is working on your strategy for tackling the tasks assigned on the day. This will help you to stay focussed and ensure you get the best mark.

A great place to start in building your strategy would be to think of three main aspects: 

1) Staying focused on exam day

2) Allocating time to read  your exam effectively and

3) Answering your exam questions.

Staying focused on exam day

The important thing is to try and stay focused, and to remain as calm and relaxed on exam day as possible. If you feel tempted to read over your study notes beforehand, a light touch approach is best. Try only to read over your study notes briefly, to help remind you of the course content you’ve covered in preparing for your exam.  

Have an early night and leave time in your morning schedule to relax and enjoy breakfast. This can include sitting quietly, going for a short walk or even practicing some morning yoga or mindfulness meditation to help calm your nerves before tackling your final assessment. 

Make sure you know the logistical requirements and format of your final assessment beforehand, and plan for these in your study schedule accordingly. For example – you might need to make sure that the appropriate software for your assessment is installed and loaded onto your laptop. When you are completing a timed eExam, it is important to know the starting time and plan to set yourself up early in case you encounter any technical issues. 

If your timed eExam is scheduled for the afternoon or evening, it might feel like your exam is a long while away. As you have a bit of time up your sleeve, spend some time doing something calming that will help you focus on something else during the day. Refer to ‘Exam tips’ for other useful advice on how to get through your final assessments while at home.

Allocating time to read your exam effectively 

Once you’ve settled in and are ready to tackle your final assessment, now is the chance to allocate some time to  reading your exam for maximum  advantage. You should do this by taking time to carefully read your exam questions. Be sure to read the entire exam paper from start to finish. This may sound counter intuitive, but in the heat of exam pressure – it’s very easy to completely skip over or not realise an entire section of an exam is there!

Pay close attention to any exam instructions provided, so that your responses will address exactly what is being asked. For example, be sure to note any directional words such as “describe” or “compare”.

Try to also use this period to set a plan for completing your exam questions. You can do this by using the allocated marks for each question to work out how much time you should spend on each question. Be sure to leave some extra time at the end so that you can review your answers and make any last minute changes if required.

For more complex exam questions, it may be useful to use this initial period to plan what you will write in your final answer. This can help you to keep track of the points you will cover and helps ensure that your response answers the whole question. It can also save you time later by not having to re-read the question.

Answering your exam questions

Completing exams can sometimes feel like a race against time to demonstrate what you have learned throughout the semester – but it doesn’t have to be!

Work through the exam questions methodically. Identify the important information from each question, and think about how you can apply that information in your answer. Try your best to do exactly what is asked to ensure you get the most marks for your answer. You may not achieve full marks if your response only partially addresses the question asked. 

Remember that you don’t have to answer exam questions in the order they were asked. To give yourself a boost, begin your exam by answering the questions you feel most confident about answering.

If you are feeling stuck on a question or your mind has gone blank, leave it and move on to another question. You can always go back to it at the end. Always try to answer every question on the exam. You can only receive marks for questions that you answer! 

Most of all, try to stay positive while completing the exam. Believe in yourself and feel proud of yourself for the hard work you’ve put into preparing for this day. You can do it!

Useful resources

Refer to Monash University’s eExams webpage to learn more about completing timed eExams.

You can find other expert advice about preparing for your open-book assessments, online eExams and other end of semester assessments in the Preparing for final assessments section of the Library’s Research and Learning Online portal.

You can also  speak to a Learning Skills Adviser at our Library’s virtual drop-ins for one on one advice on exam taking strategies.

If you feel that stress or anxiety is impacting on your ability to prepare for your final assessments, you are encouraged to make an appointment to speak with a Counsellor at Monash University’s Health Service.

Remember that taking exams is like anything else you practice – the more exams you take, the easier they will become. After your exam, it is important to engage in self reflection to assess your own exam preparation and performance after the exam. 

This can be a valuable opportunity to learn from your mistakes, build on your strengths and use this to ace your next final assessment.


About the author: Dalia Malaeb is a Librarian at the Hargrave-Andrew Library, Clayton campus.