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Four Study Tips to Prepare for Online Exams

student getting ready to write their online exam

With physical distancing in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, students are faced with the new challenge of writing online exams. Although this change may be frightening for some, with enough preparation, students can learn to make the most of this new reality. 

With this in mind, here are four tips to prepare for online exams:

1. Strategize What to Study

female student writing notes in a notebook When it comes to studying for finals, making a to-do list of major topics from the course and key textbook chapters you need to review can help set you on the right path. Pay attention to what professors say the format and topics of the exam will be. They may hint at a higher focus on some chapters versus others, so make sure those are high on your priority list when allocating study time. 

You can break down this list further into tasks like “read chapter 8”, “do chapter 11 practice problems”, or “review chapter 5 class notes”, which you can then check off once you’ve completed that task. It can help you to feel productive when you can visually see on a list what you’ve been able to check off, and what comes next.

desk study space with coffee, laptop, and notes

2. Create a Workstation at Home 

When writing your exams, it may be helpful to set up a work environment that puts you in the right mindset, and that provides a workstation that is free of distractions. Small tactics like having a clear desk and a clean room can help reduce exam stress. 

Also, you need to ensure that you have all of the required necessities for online exams with a strong Internet connection and log-in credentials. Make sure that you check your Internet connection before your exam. Think about restarting it so your network doesn't drop right in the middle of the exam. In addition, you may want to make sure your workstation has paper and writing utensils for any quick brainstorm ideas you may need to write down.

male student typing on laptop3. Prepare for the Exam Format

Exams can consist of multiple choice, short-answer, and long-answer questions. The difference between writing an exam in person versus online is the added benefit that you can write and edit faster digitally. This means that you may have more time to formulate your answers if you type faster than you write on paper. 

Moreover, for those of you who may have open book exams, another good tactic is to become very familiar with your textbooks and notes. You could be even more efficient by using an online-textbook or your digital notes, as you would be able to use the CTRL-F function to quickly search for a specific topic. You could also copy all of your lecture slides into one single file so that it makes it easier to navigate.


student looking at online video of "discussion outline" slide on laptop

4. Use Online Videos to Understand Difficult Concepts

If you find that there are specific concepts that are difficult to understand, online video explanations can be a great way to find an additional explanation for a confusing topic. The Internet is full of educational videos that can explain theories from a different perspective. 

An example of a useful online source includes KhanAcademy, which provides further understanding for complex topics such as statistics and mathematics. Instead of usually attending discussion groups on campus, these online videos can help explore a specific topic further or find more clarity.

Check out a few more tips from second-year BCom student, Camély Gendron, on the Telfer Career Centre blog. Good luck on exams, Telfer Nation!