Exams are a necessary part of university life - they highlight the extent of a student's knowledge and expertise in a particular subject area and show the school (and other bodies) what skills and knowledge the student has learnt.

Exams can also be great indicators of academic progress, helping students to identify where strengths lie in their work and where improvement is needed. However, it is well-known that assessment periods can be challenging and extremally stressful for students. In the instance you feel stressed and/or anxious about your assessments, you are encouraged to reach out to your school and/or one of the various support services at RGU:Union and RGU for support.

Below is some key pieces of advice for students preparing for and/or undertaking an assessment:

  • Stress

    Stress can manifest in many forms (physical symptoms, mental symptoms and behavioural changes) and so it is important to understand common symptoms of stress in order to better manage your health.

    • Physical Symptoms: muscle tension/pain, stomach problems, sexual problems and chest pain or a faster heartbeat.
    • Mental Symptoms: difficulty concentrating, struggling to make decisions, feeling overwhelmed, constantly worrying and being forgetful.
    • Behavioural Changes: being irritable and snappy, sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, avoiding certain places or people, and drinking or smoking more.

    If you feel stress affecting you, take a step back to assess how best to manage it. It is important to exercise, eat healthily, drink enough water and to take regular study breaks - these things can help to balance out your stress levels. Try to avoid consuming coffee after coffee (or sweet after sweet) for an energy boost, drink more water instead; this will help ensure your mind and body have sustained energy, as opposed to energy highs and lows, and can work at optimum performance. Further guidance with dealing with stress can be found on the NHS Inform.

  • Studying Methods

    Everyone is a little different when it comes to studying. Some people like to work independently and others prefer group studying. Some prefer highlighting words and others prefer making study cards.

    Students first coming to university are sometimes overly reliant on reading and re-reading as their chosen form of studying (which is great if it works); however, there are many techniques that you could try and which you might find more beneficial. You could try using highlighters, making maps/ tables/ graphs or even using memory skills tests with the aid of study/ flash cards. Whatever way works for you, try to maximise its effectiveness. If you are unsure what works best for you or need help with study techniques, get in touch with Study Skills

  • Study Time

    Ensure that you have allocated sufficient time to study effectively and efficiently! It's very easy to get seduced by the student lifestyle - prioritising socialising and pushing your studies to the last minute - but remember this will only harm your academic progress.

    Try prioritising your time to study and meeting deadlines over partying, socialising and extra-curricular activities. Remember that you came to university to further your academic skills and so this should always come first. If you prioritise your time effectively, you'll find that you still have ample time to make the most of your extra time.

    Making a realistic study timetable is a good place to start (how much time are you studying each day? Are you realistically studying on Saturday? Have you factored in work shifts?). If you are planning on studying a lot in one day, remember that you need to take time for breaks - for every hour of core study take a walk, get a drink, and switch off - you will need these breaks to ensure you don't get mental fatigue.

  • Study Environment

    Ensure that you're in an appropriate place to study! Remember that your appropriate place to study might not be the same as everyone else's. Some students prefer studying in the library, others prefer the living room. Some students prefer listening to music when studying, others prefer total silence. It is important that you figure out what your ideal and optimum conditions are for studying. Try not to just study in the library because it is what is expected, but try to find your own area that works for you.

    When you have the ideal working conditions, try to limit distractions so that you can work efficiently and effectively. You can do this by ensuring you only have study-related material in front of you (not social media tabs or chats open), hanging up a study sign (DO NOT DISTURB sign for your room), and by turning off any devices that you will not need to work (i.e. phone, tablet, T.V).

  • Study Skills

    If you are having trouble with you academic studies, a great department to reach out to is RGU Study Skills.

    RGU Study Skills can support you to meet your academic potential and to help you become a confident, independent learner. The team offers advice on a range of skills, including: Academic Writing, Study Skills, Maths and Stats English Language and IT Support.

  • Cheating

    If you are feeling stressed or under pressure, do not be tempted to cheat. Cheating is a form of Academic Misconduct. Where misconduct is alleged, students shall be liable to disciplinary procedures provided for in the Student Conduct Procedure.

    If your exams are coming up and you are feeling worried, anxious or desperate, speak with your personal tutor and/or course leader. You can also reach out to Study Sills or the Counselling & Wellbeing centre for support.

Further information regarding assessments at RGU can be found on the RGU website under Examination Procedures.

Contact RGU:Union Advice & Support via the below links or via the chat-widget on this page. If you wish to help improve our service, provide feedback by completing our questionnaire.


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This page has been updated for academic session 2021-2022.

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