Exam periods are stressful at the best of times but with the added challenges of a global pandemic, it’s perfectly natural to be feeling an increased sense of dread towards your exams.
With the UK’s lockdown still being enforced, universities across the country are moving assessments online. Many of you will be in the midst of your online exams now, while others will be preparing for Bar Professional Training Course exams set to take place virtually in August.
Here are 10 tips from the LCN team and your fellow aspiring lawyers to help you prepare effectively for your online exam and perform at your best.
- Check your university’s online exam policy and guidelines. Among other things, make sure you know when your exam will be released and when it needs to be completed by. If you have been given a 24-hour window to complete the exam, schedule time into your day to sit it with no distractions. Make sure you also have your candidate number ready!
- In terms of revision preparation, treat your online assessment like you would a formal closed book one. It’s unlikely that you will have time to flick through your books or notes, so study accordingly. That said, if your university guidelines permit notes during the assessment, consider using coloured tabs to organise your revision – one aspiring lawyer highlighted how she found it useful to have all her notes in one place.
In addition, a LCN Instagram follower suggested “explaining concepts to your houseplants”, which could be useful if you’re alone in lockdown. This study technique is known as the ‘protégé effect’ and can be a useful way to facilitate your learning.
- Make sure you know how you are being assessed – for example, has your exam changed to an online open-book assessment, an exam that needs to be completed within 24 hours or coursework? Knowing how you are being assessed will help you to prepare appropriately and ensure you’re not caught out when you take the exam.
- Complete a technology check before you are due to take the online exam to ensure your internet connection is working and your laptop is fully charged. Make sure there is an easily accessible socket in case you need to charge your laptop during the exam and don’t forget to check that it is charging properly.
- Take note of who you should contact if you have any technical issues (eg, your answers won’t save) and make sure you know what to do if you are faced with any technical problems – for example, is there an alternative submission process?
- Find a space in your home that is comfortable, quiet and free from any distractions. If you share a space with others (eg, family members), make sure they know when you’re taking your exam to ensure noise is kept to a minimum. As the UK is experiencing some unusually hot weather at the moment, take time to consider the temperature in the room and whether there is anything you can do to ensure you and the room remain cool.
- Stay hydrated! Have a bottle or glass of cold water with you.
- Turn your phone off. You wouldn’t have it on during a formal sit-down exam, so turn it off for your online ones too. Reiterating tip number two, treating your online assessment as you would your normal closed book ones will not only help to prevent distractions, it is also excellent practise to get you in the right frame of mind.
- Keep track of time – you won’t have an invigilator to guide you, so make sure there is a visible clock in the room.
- And finally, breathe.
Exams are not supposed to be easy. It’s important to remind yourself that these are some of the most important exams you will take and you’re sitting them during a global pandemic and in a format you’re not familiar with. So, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Olivia Partridge is the content and engagement coordinator at LawCareers.Net.