Blog: How I’m preparing for online assessments

Author, James Birch is a 2nd year Geography student at the University of Liverpool.

Hi everyone! Hope you are all keeping safe and of course 2 metres apart from those not in your household!

For most of us, we are about to head into exam period and although we have experienced this multiple times during our life, these assessments are going to be slightly different to those we’ve done in the past. I am going to provide you with some tips on how I am preparing for my online assessments:

1. Cover all key points of lecture material

We all have the occasional gaps in our notes from a lecture that we told ourselves we would complete once we got home but failed to do so, obviously for good reason like watching football! So, my first tip is to cover all lecture materials by re-watching stream captures and looking at lecture slides to fill in any missed content.

Following this, I like to quickly look through all my lecture slides to ensure I have all the key points for each lecture. This may seem daunting and time consuming at first but if you try and do one or two lectures a day, it makes the task much more manageable.

My way of preparing notes is by making mind maps where I highlight key points so they stand out. However, use a revision strategy that suits you best, ensuring you highlight key points for each lecture will help you to structure your exam answer.

2. Make use of available exam resources/materials

Although most of my online assessments are going to be ‘open-book’ exams, many of us still have previous exam papers and past questions provided by lecturers (often under exam resources tab on VITAL). So, my second tip is to make use of these exam resources, as they can be great for giving you an idea of potential questions you may receive in your exam; they are great ways to practise your responses and prepare essay plans for key topics.

Often exam questions are not too dissimilar and tend to focus on the same core concepts, so you could potentially write some model answers for questions/topics that have appeared multiple times in past exams. This will help to structure your revision and may also prove useful when answering your exam questions in the coming weeks.

3. Find additional readings to support your knowledge

As university students, we regularly hear the phrase ‘you must include additional reading’ in your exam responses. In practically every course, extra reading is required to inform our understanding and to access higher marks in exams.

So, my third tip is to find some extra readings to support your lecture material and exam answers. Reading lists provided by lecturers are often the best place to start.

Readings and journal articles can be quite long so to ensure I am using time efficiently when revising, I read the abstract and conclusion of a journal article. If it is relevant to me, I will read the key paragraphs to supplement my knowledge from lectures. Make sure you note down the authors of the article and the date it was published so you can cite the information in your exam.

Also, you could search for readings beyond the reading lists using Google Scholar and/or Web of Science. Extra readings will look great to examiners, helping your answer stand out from others. However, try not to get bogged down if the readings are too complex. We are not the professors, so just try and take as much knowledge from a paper as you can. Every little helps!

Currently, we’re all living in times of uncertainty and exams may not be the primary focus for everyone. As we head towards the exam period, try not to stress too much and remember to stay active and take some time to relax for yourself!  Just give it your best shot when answering exam questions and contact the university should you require any support. I hope the tips above can help you all with your exam preparation. Best of luck to everyone.

Check the information from your school or department carefully
You should have received information directly from your school or department about your assessments and how best to prepare. Make sure you check and follow this advice carefully as it is specific to your programme of study.