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					Exam Workshop
2 May 2012

Adam Sandelson                        Neil McLean
LSE Student Counselling Service       TLC

The format of the Workshop may differ from this powerpoint



                                                             1
Preparing for exams – the last
few weeks


          Neil McLean
  Teaching and Learning Centre

                                 2
Overview


   Time available
   Best use of time
   Resources

           ‘Team spirit is an illusion created by winning.’
                                             Parker (2009)

                                                              3
Time available

   Exam session starts on 14th May
   Exams run until 13th June
   For an exam on 15th May, you have 96 working hours
    (no weekends or evenings)
   Dividing this up into essay plans, for instance, you
    could make 68, you probably need to make 12 – 15
    to be ready)



                                                       4
Time available
   Planning – divide time based on the
    scheduling of your exams
   Where possible focus on the next exam
    in the few days leading up to it
   In an 8 hour day, break time up into
    1.5 hour blocks, working on answering
    different questions

                                            5
Best use of time
   You need to be good at the exam tasks – these tasks
    include performance and time

    (e.g. for 1 hour essays, most people write 800 – 1000
    words, therefore an introduction and 4 or 5 paragraphs
    and a conclusion. The introduction answers the
    question and outlines the argument in support of this
    answer, each paragraph begins with a clear statement
    that helps answer the question and combines reference
    to the literature and other sources to justify and
    support the main idea of the paragraph in a detailed
    and convincing manner.)

                                                         6
Best use of time
   Complete and practise exam tasks, using texts /
    lecture notes etc. as you get stuck

   Look to produce answers that
         Show you can think (answer the question)

         Show you’ve done the reading (references /

          context)
         Show expertise (detailed knowledge, real world

          context or use, locate the debate etc.)


                                                       7
Resources
   Each other – read each others essays,
    try the same questions and talk through
    the solutions (good end of day task)
   Revision sessions – examiner’s mindset,
    marking preferences etc.
   Office hours – take answers / plans
    rather than questions of detail

                                          8
    Exam Psychology

   Practical techniques for revision and
    exams
   Common psychological issues
   Stress management skills

              Adam Sandelson
       LSE Student Counselling Service

                                            9
Part 1


  Techniques for
  dealing with
  revision and
  exams




                   10
      Revising well
   Don’t compare yourself to
    others
   Work out your own schedule,
    be flexible if necessary
   Explore ways/ places to work
   Don’t be obsessive!
   Talk to others, ask for help

                                   11
     Time and Targets
   Set realistic and achievable goals
   Break down huge tasks
   Short term targets and longer term
    strategies
   Recognise short term achievements
   Revise study skills, time management skills


                                              12
Focussing on the task
       Concentrate on the task, not the outcome

       Remember past successes
       Recognise you are likely to pass
       Be methodical, and allow time for breaks
        and space to breathe and think
        Use mind maps, scribble ideas
        Go for a walk, talk out loud

                                                   13
On the day of the exam
   Don’t cram, sleep
   Relax, visualize it being OK
   Read the question
   Sketch out thoughts, mind map
   Plan answers
   Keep notes for later questions
   After – avoid show-offs

                                     14
Part 2

Psychological Issues in
approaching revision
and exams –
   Family Dynamics
   Procrastination
   Perfectionism
   Change

                          15
    Underlying dynamics


   The family / historic context for your
    success, eg keeping the family together
   Trying to please others
   Wanting to be the best
   Setting yourself impossible targets
   Repeating past anxiety, trauma, failure …

                                                16
     Dynamics of study, work, life ...

     Past               Current
relationships        relationships




           Relationship
           with LSE or
             exams or
           or work or …

                                     17
………Procrastination

    Putting off tasks
    Anxiety, stress, guilt, shame
    Disguise avoidance by being busy
    We may find things to do that are
     interesting or even useful, but don't
     contribute towards the main goal


                                             18
    Why do we procrastinate?

   time management
   inability to prioritise, task
    overload
   Anxiety/ boredom
   fear of failure/ success
   perfectionism
   all-or-nothing thinking




                                    19
    Overcoming revision blocks

   Stop new reading if this is avoidance
       make notes, summarize ideas, list key quotes…
   Practice questions
   Practice drafting bullet points
   Break work down into chunks
   Take a break/sleep on it/talk to someone
   Talk to the computer or your hand?
   Acknowledge your procrastination!
                                                        20
    Challenge perfectionism

   Perfectionism can reduce achievement.
   Experiment with your standards for success
       try for 80% or even 60%
   Focus on the process of doing an activity not
    just the end result
       evaluate success in terms of what you
        accomplished and whether you enjoyed the task
   Challenge ‘all or nothing’ thinking

                                                        21
Thinking about life after LSE

   Not everyone knows what they want
    to do afterwards - it’s OK to wait
   Transition and change are stressful
       Going home
       Losing Social Network
       How to keep in touch with others
       Preparing for work; the Rat Race

                                           22
     Preparing for change
   Don’t deny endings
   Be willing to say goodbye
   Don’t obsess too much
    about endings
   Remember that endings
    are part of life


                                23
Part 3


  Review your Stress
  Management Skills




                       24
Stress Management Skills
   Regularly switch off          Breathing or relaxation
                                   exercises
   Good self care – sleep,
    diet, caffeine, alcohol,      Allow yourself time out
    physical activity              without guilt

   Time management               Anxiety is normal –
                                   don’t deny it!
   Take regular mini-
    breaks to relax
                                                             25
Cognitive Strategies
   Challenge negative thinking
   Distract yourself from negative thoughts
   Difficulties and setbacks can be good
    for learning and personal growth?
   Tolerate not knowing – try to see
    shades of grey, not black and white!


                                          26
Challenging negative thoughts
   Apply ‘Socratic reasoning’ or imagine
    this being tested in a Court of Law

       Identify the negative thought
            Eg, I am going to fail all my exams
       Ascertain the evidence For and Against
       Ask if you are making a ‘thinking error’
       Propose a more reasonable alternative
        thought
                                                   27
        Thinking errors

   All or nothing thinking
   Discounting the positive
       Only seeing the negative side of things
   Over - generalizing
       because it happened in the past it will
        happen again in the future
   Catastrophising
   Emotional Reasoning
       If I feel it then it must be true

                                                  28
Part 4


  What sources of
  advice and help
  are available?




                    29
Sources of advice and help
   Academic Adviser/            Student Union and Advice
    Departmental staff            Centre
   TLC                          Medical Centre
   Learning World Website       Mental Health and
   Student Services Centre       Wellbeing Advisor
   Deans                        Disability and Wellbeing
                                  Office
    Don't wait until
    problems have grown
    impossibly large!



                                                         30
Further resources
 Learning World - http://moodle.lse.ac.uk/
 See powerpoints on:
    Exams I: Planning and Preparation Resource
    Exams II: Last Minute Preparation and Sitting the Exams
    Exams III: Using Past Exam Papers Resource

 Student Counselling Service website
 http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/studentCounsellingService
 See powerpoints/ video podcasts on:
     Psychological Issues Involved In The Task Of Writing
     Overcoming Perfectionism
     Procrastination workshop:




                                                               31
LSE Student Counselling
Service
   Free and confidential
   Mainly offers short term counselling
   Appointments need to be booked in advance
   See Website for
       Stress management handout
       Self help resources on study – related and
        personal difficulties
       Relaxation MP3’s

                                                     32
Final thoughts


   Focus on the task, not the outcome
   Transition can be stressful, but also
    allows us to grow as a person
   Imagine looking back in 5 years
   Talk to others (if not yourself)


                                            33

				
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