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Top exam tips for international students 

End of semester exams can be some of the most stressful weeks for international students. If ever you find yourself doubting your abilities during assessments, these study tips may just be able to give you some confidence and peace of mind at the times you need it the most.


Be prepared

Giving yourself enough time to study is without a doubt the key to succeeding in your studies.  While last-minute cramming works for some students, it’s not a good idea in the long run, as it usually only stores information in your short-term memory, let alone the pressure it places on you leading up to your assessments. It’s better to set out a timetable for your studies than to cram your brain with too much information during a short period of time. 

You can save a lot of stress for your exams by organising your notes, study space and schedules in advance. This may also mean staying up to date with lectures and class activities throughout the semester so you aren’t overwhelmed during peak study periods. On top of this, a study schedule is an excellent way of keeping track of what you have accomplished or still need to achieve.

Answer practice tests

Some of your teachers may give you sample test papers prior to your exam week. This may give you an idea of how questions are phrased or what topics are covered. Try answering these under exam conditions, for example, with a time limit or access to only the resources you will actually have available during your exam. Once you have taken three or four practice tests, chances are you’ll be far more familiar with how exams are structured and how much time you need to give for each question. 

In doing so, you not only improve your exam skills, but your confidence as well.

Take a break

It’s nearly impossible to memorise or understand all of your course information in one sitting. You therefore need to reward yourself with some break times to recharge and relax. It is known that taking regular breaks for 10-15 minutes in between studies can help retain information for longer periods of time. 

On top of this, it’s important that you are well rested so you can fully focus during your exams. Not only does sleep helping you perform better during an exam the next day, it certainly helps if you do not fall asleep during an important test!

Try a variety of study techniques

There are countless ways to study for exams, and each is as individual as the student who uses them. Some examples include using visual aids such as flow charts and diagrams, writing down and summarising notes, highlighting phrases on paper, or getting together with peers for a study session and working through tricky concepts. You can even partner up with someone in your class to compare notes.  Whichever technique you choose, just make sure you have a full understanding of the topic you are studying.

Seek help

If you find yourself struggling with a certain subject, it’s crucial to ask for help. You can speak with your professors or classmates about any concerns you may have. You can consult your institution’s student affairs services for any support available to foreign students. This can include tutoring services or partnership programs.

For further assistance, you can always chat with one of IDP’s student services advisors.

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