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Top Tips for Taking Online Exams

18 January 2021

4 mins

No one would think we would miss sitting in a freezing cold Tennis Centre, writing at 100mph during an exam and having to wait 10 minutes to go to the toilet but, taking exams in our own homes poses new challenges. I sat my final year exams in June 2020 in my student room in Loughborough not really understanding how to go about taking the most important exams of my life in a completely new environment.

So to save you the stress I thought I’d share the lessons I learnt to help you out in this exam season.

1. Set up your own exam space

Now I understand that not everyone is blessed enough to have their own room with a desk in it. But it is important to try and find a quiet place in your house that you can settle down and do your exam. Maybe use the kitchen table and kick out your siblings for a couple of hours. Use your parent’s work from home space for the exam.

Make sure you let everyone in your house know that you have an exam and ask them to keep the noise down. If you can’t find a quiet space in your house, I recommend putting on a pair of headphones. This leads me to my next tip…

2. As tempting as it is don’t listen to music

I know I just said wear headphones but don’t be playing any music during the exam. Personally, I like listening to music when I am revising but when it comes to writing I really struggle to concentrate. You don’t want the academic marking your answers to be reading Taylor Swift lyrics in the middle of your politics essay.

If you really think you would benefit from listening to some music make it an instrumental, it doesn’t have to be classical music, there are lots of lo-fi study playlists around.

3. Have your favourite drink and snack to hand

Being in your house means there is a whole host of distractions. Taking a quick trip to the kitchen to make a cup of tea could end up taking 30 minutes out of your exam time.

So before you start make yourself your favourite (non-alcoholic) drink and have a little snack on the side. I would recommend a satsuma or a cereal bar.

4. Turn off your phone!

More distractions. Do not give yourself the opportunity to spend time doomscrolling on Twitter or to check the course chat to see if anyone else is having a meltdown.

Just for two or three hours turn it off, put it in a draw at the other side of the house and focus. It will still be there when you finish.

5. Arrange to speak to a friend or coursemate after the exam

You know how it goes after an exam, everyone stands outside the Tennis Centre and discussed what they put for each question and figuring out if they need to start making plans to come back for the Special Assessment Period in September.

Now you might not get the same answers as your 8 year old brother but that is probably a good thing. So if you want some time to vent about a question or just find out how others found it set up a short call with some course mates. Just 10/15 minutes and check in on each other. This tip honestly saved me. After my first exam, I spent days stressing that I had done it all wrong but after talking to a few course mates and figuring out they got the same I felt so much better.

6. Be kind to yourself

It can be so essay to stress out during exams and especially when you aren’t in a controlled environment. Remember everyone in your year is in the same boat and are probably also feeling anxious. Take care of yourself during this really stressful time. Take some time away from revising to go for a walk or listen to a podcast or cook yourself your favourite meal. Look after your body and mind so you are ready to attack the exam!

For more information about 2020/21 Semester 1 exams please visit the student handbook.

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