Daniel Lee is a British student, currently on his Erasmus year in Italy
Without doubt the most feared time of the year for students, exam season has a knack of coming around inexplicably fast. Expressions of worry and stress are commonplace in the third term of university. My sister is currently taking her final exams at university in the UK and I know we’ve found many differences on the outlook on each of our impending exam seasons.
As is to be expected, exams taken while studying abroad will differ to those sat at home in the UK. For example, most of my exams and modules here have been affected by my attendance. If you achieve over a certain percentage, you will be awarded with marks towards your final grade. The pass mark is higher too. In the UK, we normally need to achieve 40% or more to pass, yet in many European universities, you have to achieve a grade of 5.0 (equivalent to 50%) to pass. This differs between teachers and institutions though, so be aware and check the grade boundaries when you first arrive. The weirdest difference for me here in Italy is the majority of exams were oral only and conducted in a group. There are no essay submissions or actual written exams. Instead, we simply were asked questions and had to answer them verbally, mainly in a discussion styled situation.
Obvious as it sounds, revision is essential for exam prep - your last chance to go over everything you have been taught in the module.
Plan ahead - having enough time to revise is essential.. I tend to find - if I can - to start going over notes almost as soon as you write them. Staying organised will certainly help; create a revision timetable so that you know what to revise when. A huge help for allowing enough study time is by prioritising modules or subjects in order of chronology or how much revision time you personally feel is needed for each one.
Revision can be a long and tiring process and surrounding yourself with people in the same exam mindset helps keep you focused. Revising in groups makes a good break away from constant independent study, for example study groups with friends or classmates can help you share knowledge among you. If you study in groups you have support and other people to keep you focused.
When sitting your summer exams, obviously you want to do your best and that can mean at times stress levels turn into pulling all nighters. However, this can do more harm than good. All nighters can cause disruption to sleep patterns, inability to take in information or even performing poorly in the exam. Ensure you get enough sleep as well as downtime - revision can drive you crazy.
Exams are stressful, everybody knows that. It may seem hard to avoid at times, but panicking during this season does not help. To avoid anxiety, I have found the best way to stay calm is to look forward to something. Thinking about the future can help as it allows you to visualise an end point and not be in a state of constant worry about the present. Think of the long summer ahead and all the fun activities in store throughout that time.
Well, the grades I receive during on my year abroad have no effect on my overall degree classification, but I do need to pass certain subjects. It would be nice to return from my year abroad having passed the majority if not all of my modules. I have already created study groups, mapped out a clear timetable and made sure that I have enough time to relax and enjoy myself in between. So far so good and I would highly recommend you do the same!
Daniel Lee, on his Erasmus year in Sardegna, Italy.