The Student's Guide to Exam Success

By Eileen Tracy | Go to book overview

A word of explanation

My work as a study skills counsellor means that many students talk to me in total honesty about the pressures they are undergoing. I am privileged in this respect. Rarely do students talk candidly about their experiences. Often I get to hear stories that they wouldn't dream of telling anyone else - not even close friends and family.

Why the silence? Students are usually embarrassed about their failings because they imagine everyone else to be doing better. That's understandable, given that being a student means becoming prey to other people's judgements and criticisms. The more other people know about your weak spots, the more they can undermine you. So one reason why students don't talk about their difficulties is to avoid getting hurt and put down. Unfortunately this also makes for a lonely life. Some of the testimonials I have chosen depict that terrible isolation.

Another cause of silence can be immaturity: many students go to college straight from school, having very little real life experience or self-awareness. This makes it hard for them to put their finger on what's going wrong, let alone explain it coherently to anyone else.

The accounts I've collected show what it can really feel like to be a student. I was particularly interested in testimonials depicting very typical study difficulties. Some of the students who contacted me were still studying at the time, and some only wrote or phoned once or twice, so I can't always tell you how their stories ended. Other people I spoke to had finished their studies, so in their case, you have a more complete picture of those factors that turned out to be most instrumental in contributing to their successes and failures.

Put together, these accounts show – reassuringly – how unconnected the progression can be from academic success to personal or career satisfaction. Often, a bumpy ride can be just as effective as a smooth one in launching a satisfying career. Note that I don't know how happy and fulfilled my testimonial subjects feel in other aspects of their lives, so 1 wouldn't promote them to you as wholesale models of success – merely as evidence of the many viable approaches and outcomes that exist when tackling revision and exams.

My aim is to offer a range of personal experiences from which you can take heart. The more you can know about how others coped or didn't cope, the more comforted, warned, informed and inspired you can be in what can be quite literally the most testing time in your life.

-169-

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The Student's Guide to Exam Success
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction: Action, Not Anxiety 1
  • Part I - States of Mind for Success 5
  • 1: Clear Your Head 7
  • 2: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind 32
  • Part II - Techniques for Success 59
  • 3: Lay Solid Study Foundations 61
  • 4: Remember, Remember 82
  • 5: Use Resources Wisely 109
  • 6: Plan for Success 126
  • 7: Master Your Exams 146
  • Part III - Testimonials 167
  • A Word of Explanation 169
  • Appendix 1: Coursework and Exam Checklist 195
  • Appendix 2: Save Time at Your Computer 197
  • Appendix 3: Second Chances 199
  • Appendix 4: Learning Difficulties 200
  • Appendix 5: Special Exam Provisions 201
  • Useful Addresses 203
  • Bibliography 205
  • Index 207
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