Exam Advice from People Who Actually Know What the Hell We’re Talking About

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End-of-session exams are almost over, so if you’re not done revising you’re almost certainly going to fail and live out the rest of your life as a penniless vagabond roaming the earth knowing only half of everything there is to know about stochastic methods of applied finance. But don’t worry, hope is not lost. The Grapey team is here with the kind of realistic exam and vagabond-related advice you won’t find in MQ’s Learning Skills Unit handbook.

Be prepared

Mind maps? Seriously, when did drawing a bunch of circles and lines EVER get you more than a passing grade? The last time I took a mind map seriously was when my Year 2 teacher drew one on the new smartboards in permanent marker and was promptly fired. Those fuckers never end well.

So forget Mind Maps, invest in Wine and Naps. Ditch the colour-coded bullshit and acquaint yourself with the world’s best study buddy: cheap-ass fermented grape juice. You’ll begin to associate study time with the warm-fuzzies of alcohol and you’ll find yourself craving one-on-one time with a practise paper. If wine isn’t your jam, try actual jam, or tee-vee snacks, or wiz-fizz or cheezels. Just stay away from bread, pasta and other carbs – that stuff hits your stomach like a tonne of bricks and leaves little energy for your brain to churn (ever wonder why the entirety of Europe has a nap at 2pm?) – and don’t even touch morale-sinking chore foods like broccoli, carrots or apples.

Go straight for the quick-fix sugar hits to fire up that dopamine-parched brain. Crash when you need to and rest no more than 40 minutes at a time. Normal sleep cycles don’t matter anymore. Chase off the looming scurvy diagnosis by chugging a bottle of V8 right after the exam. Sleep properly when you’re dead.

Oh and also, whoever said cramming doesn’t work is a fucking moron.

Have an attack plan

When the sun starts peeking over the horizon, allow yourself a quick power nap and pop into woolies to buy the can of energy drink with the most flames. When you arrive at uni, it’s time to put your notes away and start thinking tactics. How will you approach the next three hours?

– The hottie from your tute is here, do your best to nab a seat next to them.

– Make sure you have enough pens; 25 should do the trick, plus some highlighters, an eraser, and one of those little travel pillows for your back.

– Limber up, three hours is a long time. Run on the spot. Stretch those muscles. Lean on a nearby exam-goer if needed. A little pilates goes a long way.

– Organise your time. First ten minutes: frantically flicking through the paper for a topic you recognise. Next two hours: A decent, fairly even distribution of A, B, C and D. Final hour: kill as much time as possible writing your name and student ID in careful cursive on all the pages. If your results don’t impress the marker, at least your penmanship will.

Understand your questions

When you’re in the exam, the most important thing to do is to read the questions carefully.

Don’t pay any attention to the intrusive thoughts in your brain like “What would happen if I just started violently masturbating right here and now?” In your reading time, establish the order in which you’ll tackle question based on the marks they give. A short answer question does not need to be more than one paragraph despite how much your anxiety and low-self-esteem begs you to write more because you haven’t proved yourself yet.

Stay focused. If you find yourself disassociating and coming to after having written an entire essay, go back and read it because you don’t want to be marked down for having written the word ‘pants’ for 3 pages.

Take regular breaks after long periods of writing, and use this time to plan ahead. Do not use this time to focus on the sound of the student breathing next to you, or the student in front of you bouncing his leg, or the sound of 100 pencils and pens scratching in unison that sound like insects burrowing into your skull. Just don’t.

Above all, remain cool, calm and collected. Or don’t, what the fuck do I know??? I’m doing an arts degree, I haven’t done an exam in YEARS.

If all else fails…

We’ve all been there: You’re in the middle of the exam, staring at a blank piece of paper, your hands gushing with sweat. You’re trying desperately to remember the environmental impact of introduced geese on Australian ecosystems but your head is empty. What do you do? It’s simple! Put your writing utensils on the desk, stand up, and walk out of that room. Catch the first bus you find and take it to its last stop. Hitchhike to a nice farm town in the heart of the state. Dye your hair. Tell suspicious locals that your name is Cassidy Firebloom. Take up working for a kindly one-legged widower who lives at the edge of town. Say nothing when he calls you by his wife’s name. Meet with a simple but sensual man named Trunch at the local watering hole. Let him take you back to the property his father left him. Do this for a few months. Say ‘yes’ when he proposes. Have several children. Remember your old life occasionally, like a distressing story somebody else once told you. Then, in the heat of a fervent embrace with Trunch after another perfect evening of watching your brood playing in the wheat-fields, remember everything there is to know about European waterfowl. Panic. Wonder if you made the right choice. Realise that your dream of being an avian biologist was really your father’s dream. Relax. Let Trunch’s arms take you. This is your life now. Don’t look back.


This stellar advice was written by Nikita Jones, Angus Dalton, Emma Harvey, Max Lewis and Cameron Colwell.