Studying Solo: How to Prepare for Online Exams at Home


Some university students are being asked to take their final exams online – in a different format than they’ve ever experienced.

Remote exams are more flexible, more mindful of individual needs, and acknowledge the pressures students are under.

Here are some ways students can tailor their revision to make the most of online assessment.

Create a revision routine

First, decide what topics to cover, and what kinds of knowledge or learning the exam is testing. Tutors can help with this, as well as past papers and sample answers.

Once you’ve got your exam timetable, divide the remaining time by the number of topics to create a study schedule.

Learn concepts – not just words

Start reviewing course notes, marked essays, lecture videos and important source material. But, learn concepts and ideas, don’t memorize lots of text. Open book exams let you show you know how to apply learning, not what you can remember. But while this takes some pressure off, hunting for sources during a test can be distracting.

One solution is to make summary sheets with key ideas, quotes and analysis. This active revision helps you understand and remember information, and also makes it easier to find what you need during the exam.

Tackle Exam Anxieties

Sitting exams online, alone and during a pandemic is a huge thing – it’s OK to feel anxious or angry about it. There are also ways to manage the worries. Try to minimise stress by creating an exam space that is separate from your revision zone: sit at a desk or the kitchen table, for example, rather than in bed.

Check if your university has exam walkthroughs online. These show what the process will be like, from logging in to uploading answers. Try to download, log in and practice using any recommended software in advance. And if you’re worried about not having a computer or internet connection during the exam, ask your university to loan you a laptop, dongle, or other essential kit.