Finance student insight: How to survive exam week at WBS
22 March 2019
Student bloggers from our range of Finance Masters courses talk about their exam preparation and how to survive exam week at WBS.
Dinara Karabalinova, MSc Business with Financial Management (now known as MSc Business & Finance)
The main lesson that I learned from the exam preparation process is that it is important to effectively distribute your time between study and leisure. Due to the mid-term tests, the last three weeks before Christmas break were quite intensive. I was worried about the time scarcity and decided to start my preparation straight after the end of classes. My first week was really unproductive: I procrastinated a lot and constantly felt tired. So, after that, I organised a more flexible schedule and spent my evenings on leisure activities. This approach helped to distract myself from the study routine and spend my study time more wisely.
In terms of study strategies, I decided to read all of the lectures first and then focus on solving problems and cases. Taking my own summary notes after each lecture made my revision process much easier, and gave me a chance to spend most of the timesolving exercises from seminars and past exam papers. Therefore, I strongly encourage everyone to take effective notes during the semester to save you time before finals. Past exam papers are extremely useful in giving you an idea of what to expect in the real exam. If there are two or more past papers available, I would advise practicing one exam with a time limit.
During exam week, it is important to sleep well and manage your anxiety. Even if you don’t feel prepared enough, you should give yourself enough sleep. Otherwise, you can find yourself in a situation where you are so fatigued that you cannot remember or solve anything. So, study hard, but do not forget to take care of yourself!
Firstly, time management is really important. You may have three or four modules to revise for, and so it is better to manage your time wisely and start early. I also create a timetable that is tailored to my exam dates - always mark your progress and make sure that you’re on time and stick to your daily routine.
Secondly, take time to relax. Exams might make people anxious and stressed out, but this is normal during an exam period and actually I think a little anxiety helps to heighten your awareness and can enhance your performance. To avoid becoming too anxious, you can always talk to your friends and classmates, and there are even people from Warwick student welfare that can help you cope with your excess tension.
Finally, stay calm and be realistic about what you can accomplish. There is no way that you can go through all materials, such as lecture notes, textbooks and reading lists. Therefore, I think it is vital to synthesise the concepts and material that’s most important and try to understand them well. You can then practice the questions from seminars and past papers. If you don’t understand something from the lecture, you can always go back to the lecture recordings and I find that very useful.
Aarzoo Zakir, MSc Accounting & Finance
In the three weeks of Christmas break I had, two were spent panicking over the exams that were looming in the horizon. As I had gone back home for the holidays, meeting my family and friends after 3 long months made it strenuous for me to focus. I was so busy stressing out, I only started actually preparing for it at the eleventh hour.
I needed a few things to calm me down; a coffee, 27 hours in a day, and an environment that was conducive to learning. Whilst the 27 hours in a day wasn’t possible, the Postgraduate Learning Hub was the perfect place - somehow it makes you want to get your study done without procrastinating. It took my lecture notes, additional reading resources and a miracle to calm me down and get me focused. And that miracle was in the form of ‘lecture capture’, the one thing I will forever be grateful for. I realised that incentivisation was the key to keeping me on track, I created targets for myself and if I reached that in the given time, I’d reward myself with the Extra Special Hot Chocolate from ‘Curiositea’. And finally, I learnt that routine is key to navigating through exam season with your sanity intact.
Everyone deals with exam week in their own distinct way, but here are some essential tips that will keep you going:
- Stay hydrated - this will help you to stay concentrated
- Favour short, productive periods of study rather than spending unimaginable hours at your study space
- Set targets and treat yourself once you’ve achieved them
- Don’t compare your progress with others’; your speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward!
- Get maximum hours of sleep the night before the exam - this will keep your mind fresh
- Eat proper meals to help fuel your revision
- Also, try to avoid energy drinks as much as possible because the instant buzz is not worth the headaches that follow
- Take a walk outside for some fresh air
All of this has helped me tackle my exam week with ease. I hope it helps you too!
Ricki Liu, MSc Accounting & Finance
Exams are a big challenge for everyone at WBS and mastering the financial modules is quite a tough job for students on MSc Accounting and Finance. I think there are several essential points to survive exam week.
Firstly, seminar exercises are the most important tool for consolidating lecture knowledge. The exercises are carefully designed and reviewing the problem sets after the seminar, as part of your exam revision, can deepen your understanding and help you feel prepared for different scenarios and problems in the exam.
Secondly, studying in a team is an efficient way to exchange ideas and solve problems. A study partner is also a great support system and you can not only learn from each other, but also get some extra motivation and help. Thirdly, never forget that lecturers are happy to answer your questions and offer help. If, after discussion with classmates, you are still confused about anything, do not hesitate to ask the lecturers. The faculty at WBS is excellent and patient about any questions, even those you think are silly
Finally, and most significantly, lecture slides give you the most basic knowledge needed to pass an exam. The final exam is not simply a process of copying lecture points, and goes far deeper than this, but a good command of the lecture knowledge will help lay the groundwork.