I may have decided to write this article in the midst of an exam related breakdown, which perhaps gives a good idea of how I’m feeling about my first-year exams. This is the first year since GCSEs, that my exams don’t ‘count’ for anything and finding the motivation to revise through that is excruciating.
It’s so hard to know if it’s worth stressing yourself to the max when all you need is that mystical 40%. But is that really the case? I’ve heard it said over and over that the better you do in your first year, the better you’ll do when it actually counts, and I think to an extent that’s true. If you can master exams in the first year, it’ll definitely be a whole lot easier when it counts. University exams are so different to the glorious spoon-feeding, comprehensive mark schemes of A levels and I think freshers’ exams should be a chance to work out how to navigate them.
I’ve decided personally to take this year to see how much revision I need to do to get decent marks. For my A-levels, I practically learnt my texts inside out (I can still quote most of book nine of Paradise Lost off by heart), and I want to work out this year if I actually need to know all of that, as most of it is never going to be useful in the exam. The lack of guidance from lecturers doesn’t help at all here.
Our exams weren’t even mentioned to us before the Easter break; we were placated with the promise of a single revision lecture when we returned, one week before the exam.
I don’t think that is enough. There’s a massive jump between school exams and university exams, and I think that’s something the lecturers should help prepare students for, in a greater way than a single revision lecture. Whilst I do appreciate the emails being circulated about de-stressing during exams, preventing this stress by offering more guidance to first years would be much more helpful than a group session about time management.
The amount of stressed messages on various group chats desperately asking each other if one seminar leader has given more guidance than another (spoiler: some have) shows that I’m not alone in thinking that first years need more help getting through their first university exams.
I also don’t think I’m alone when I say that perhaps it’s a good thing we only need 40%…