Resits and How to Survive Them: Facing Exams a Second Time

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The bad news about resits is, well, they’re exams … again. The good news is that they are only exams and while no-one ever wants to do more exams than they have to, the ones you have already survived will have taught you things, however unpleasant the experience was.

Please remember: you failed an exam / some exams. This does not mean that you are a failure. Exams do not define you. It just means that whereas you have succeeded in many things in life (including getting in to University in the first place) you haven’t succeeded in those particular areas YET.

Failing an exam or even several does not mean that you will never pass. In all likelihood with some help and some work you will pass. Failing exams is not uncommon, particularly for first year students, many of whom go on to get good degrees. As the years progress any failure will be more of a disappointment to you but if you managed to get to University in the first place and you are failing in your final year something has gone wrong.

Occasionally students decide that University isn’t for them and choose a different path (not necessarily because they can’t do the work – they may no longer want to be at University) but please don’t leave without talking to tutors and really thinking about what is sensible to do. See my posts on What if University isn’t for me? Part 1 and Part 2 .

Universities are very keen for students to pass exams and often offer revision and exam technique sessions. It may also be possible to get some feedback from the exam /s you failed.

This is a roundup of my most popular posts on exams and how to survive them. I wish you good fortune in your studies!

Exam FAQs: Which question should you answer first? How long should an exam essay be? What can you do to get better marks? What’s the point of an exam? I do my best to answer these questions here.

Exam Myths: bullet points are fine, I have to show the examiner everything I know, biographical detail is important, examiners give better marks if you have good handwriting, the essay is too short, the examiner won’t notice :-).

How to do better in exams: sections on how to revise, be relevant, break down questions into blocks, use quotations and textual reference, common errors and how to avoid them.

How to choose exam questions: simple strategies for how to approach exam papers and to determine quickly but efficiently which questions you answer.

5-Minute Exam Tips: simple but important things you can do before and during the exam to maximise your chances of doing a good job.


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