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Exam preparation

In relation to the exam, you will learn a lot about your material and you will get practice in communicating your knowledge about the material.

The exam is your opportunity to learn a lot about your subject and improve your communication skills either in writing or orally. The better you prepare for your exam, the better it usually goes too.

There are perhaps as many ways to deal with the exam period as there are students at the University. For example, for some it works really well to use a study group, while others are best off reading alone. Some work best under pressure, while others need to be finished well in advance. As with so much else, it can take some time before you find exactly the work process that makes you get the best out of your exam preparation.

Exam performance is not everything
A good place to start is to find out what expectations and requirements are for you and your exam performance. What does the curriculum say? What does your teacher expect? What do you expect from yourself? When you have an overview of what expectations are for you, it is easier to plan how you will work towards graduation.

Exam at the University

Overview and preparation are essential for a good exam.

In the video below, students and teachers give good advice on what it is like to take an exam at the University, and how to plan and create an overview during your exam period.

Plan your exam period

The exam period can be confusing, but by planning it in advance, you can take ownership of your preparation time and keep an overview.

Get inspiration from the advice below:

Get an overview of when all your exams will take place

Et eksempel på en udfyldt kalenderplanWrite the dates of oral exams and handouts into your calendar. This way, you can keep track and avoid missing important deadlines. For example, make a monthly schedule or calendar for your exam period

Schedule your time before and between exams 

Consider what you need to prepare for and between your exams and how much time you need to spend on it. For example, you can review the curriculum or your semester plan to assess what you need to have read aloud. It can be texts that you have not read during the semester, texts that you must have read more intensively, or texts that you simply need to have skimmed again. Read more about the different reading styles here

If you want to prepare together with others, for example your study group, you can plan when you will meet well in advance.

Also, plan when you will have time off between exams. Breaks during the exam period are important to ensure that you get charged up so that you can work concentrated both in your preparation and during your exams.

Set realistic goals and prioritize

Some exam periods are more pressured than others. It is therefore important that you set realistic goals for your exams and your work during the exam period. For example, if you are pressured with multiple exams in a period of time, you may need to prioritize between them or adjust your ambitions for one or more of them.

Also consider how high you want to prioritize free time during your exam period. It can be an advantage to get a break from the exams, but it can also be difficult to find a profit if your exam period is very pressed.

Read about stress and how you can plan for peak periods here.

Start well in advance with what you can 

For example, if you know that you will need some popular books, you can order them in advance. If you are going to collect empirical evidence, for example with interviews or fieldwork, it may be a good idea to make appointments before the exam period, so that you ensure that you have the material available that you need.

Get an overview of the course

It is a good idea to read your curriculum to see the requirements for your exam, and then get an overview of the course curriculum. Review notes, slides, minor assignments and other teaching material at an overall level to get an overview. Then make an overall plan for what to read when and not least how. Read more about exam requirements here.

Get through the exam period well

Below you will find good advice for the exam period both during and after.

During the examination period

Build some solid routines.

Think of your day during the exam period as a working day in which you work purposefully at set times. You can use a weekly schedule to plan when you work and when you take time off.

Respect your work rhythm. Are you tired at noon? 14? Then this is not where you have to throw yourself over the most difficult part of the syllabus. Instead, spend that time on easier tasks, and place the most mentally demanding when you are clearest in your head. For example, divide the working day into two or three intervals according to your mental efficiency curve, and distribute the tasks accordingly.
Listen to your body! Provide your body with proper food, water, and regular breaks with inpatient movement. Then you stay both physically and mentally on top longer and remember better
Stop and think Do you get enough done even if you sit in the reading room all day? Is the use of Facebook and Twitter out of control at home? Do you sleep badly or are you sad and upset all the time? If it doesn't work, stop and write down what isn't working right now and what concrete ideas you have for doing something different – and then do it. Talk to your fellow students or your student counsellor. 
Remember life next to studies. Especially during exam periods, one can easily isolate oneself from the outside world and spend all waking hours preparing for the exam. But allow yourself to get out and get some fresh air. It gives you renewed energy and keeps your brain sharp, so you can concentrate better when you work.
Adjust your reading strategy

You probably do not need to read all the texts thoroughly from end to end in your exam preparation. Depending on what kind of text it is, how thoroughly you have read it before (and can remember it), and how central it is to the curriculum, you can use different reading techniques: overview reading, close reading, selective reading and skimming. If you do not have to read aloud, but have to read your way into a subject, for example for a free written examination paper, you can also benefit from special methods for subject-specific reading.

After the exam


The exam is over, you survived and might prefer to forget about exam reading. But already next semester, the next exam period lies in wait. Therefore, spend just 10-15 minutes picking up on your strategy: what worked well and what do you want to change for the next time? You will be better at reading for exams if you use your experience in the future.

Share your experience. Both good and less good exam experiences can be nice to share with others, as the exam will often be the result of an intensive work process, which can be nice to finish. At an exam with physical presence, it will often be obvious to turn the exam with the fellow students who are also present. For an online exam, you must seek out the interview yourself. Consider. whether to make an appointment for you to call a friend or family member to reverse your exam experience.

Exam preparation in groups


Collaborate with your study group on exam preparation. This way you get professional help in your preparation, which can help to a better end result.

Through the group work, you can help each other review the material and prepare for the exam. Agree to look at each other's notes, share notes or to present the substance to each other. You can also help each other make good agreements about work planning and breaks.

Students who have worked together along the way are given a lot for the exam: they have been trained to express themselves about the substance, and they have been given more angles on the substance of working together. You can read more about how you can process academic material together and how you give and receive feedback here.

Below you will find examples of activities that you can use as exam preparation in the group:


When you have to prepare and rehearse academic material for the exam, you can use a word game. Through the word game, you train your ability to formulate about the professional material and at the same time get an insight into any gaps in your understanding.

How is the game performed?

1. Write down key words: Write down a lot of key words from the academic material, e.g. key concepts or theorists that you want to review. Please include both general topics and more specific material. Find inspiration from your notes, PowerPoints from the lessons and the semester plan.

2. Make pieces: cut out the key words as pieces and turn them down towards a table.

3. Drag and tell: alternately, one of the group members pulls one of the pieces from the table and tells as much as he or she knows about the subject of the piece.

4. Add: afterwards, the remaining members of the group can ask questions, add and comment.

5. Repeat: after this, it is the turn of a new group member to draw a piece and tell from there. Continue the exercise until all the pieces are turned over.

Read more about how you can train for the oral exam in groups here.

Practice the oral presentation in groups.

In the study group,you can train your presentation for the oral exam. By constructing an exam situation, you train your oral communication and possibly get an impression of how it feels to get nervous.

1. Select presenter and presentation: take turns to have one in the group present the prepared presentation. If you have to draw one of several prepared topics for the exam, you can make a draw among the topics or let the listening group members decide which presentation they want to hear.

2. Take time: set a stopwatch or take time so that the presenter trains to observe the time that will be available in a real exam situation.

3. Give the presentation: the presenter will give his prepared presentation and practice communicating the material clearly. Focus on speech tempo, body language and tone of voice, so that the communication is good and safe. Read more about oral communication.

4. Discussion: after the time has elapsed, the remaining members of the group can ask in-depth questions about the presentation's academic content, where the presenter will have the opportunity to answer. In this way, you train the dialogue that will typically arise between the student and The Examiner/Examiner in an exam situation, and at the same time you get a better understanding of the material by discussing it.

5. Feedback: finally, you can evaluate the presentation and discussion. Be sure to give the presenter useful feedback on both academic content and oral communication. Learn how to give each other feedback.

Avoid exam cheating

If you know what is allowed during the exam, there is less chance that you will inadvertently cheat.

It is therefore a good idea to pay attention to what is allowed for the exam and what is not.

Read more about the different types of exam cheating and familiarize yourself with the rules here

You can test your knowledge of exam cheating by taking the test here.

See also this:

Academic regulations

Orientate yourself in your curriculum on requirements for each individual subject in your programme.

Know the rules

Read about the rules in relation to exams at Aarhus University.

Avoid cheating in your assignment

It is important to follow the rules and guidelines on exam cheating and plagiarism. AU Library guides you on how, so you can easily avoid it.