Sunday 22 April 2018

The Weekly Read: How to survive repeat exams

We've genuinely all had at least one module we've barely scraped through... please bear in mind that having to repeat is by no means the end of your academic career, writes Dairne Black

Students taking exams in college (Photo: Stock photo)
Students taking exams in college (Photo: Stock photo)

Dairne Black

Starting back at college is a bit of a turbulent time, getting to grips with new timetables, new subjects and lecturers and that whole ‘back at college vibe’. For some students however, there’s a more serious fear, in that they don’t actually know if they’ll be present for the year ahead.

For students sitting repeats, back to college is an ‘if’ as opposed to a ‘when’.

I am the queen of repeats, having been through enough to last a lifetime. In fact, at the moment, I’m currently studying for one final one. I know what it’s like, I’ve been there, I’ve sat the exams, I’ve passed and I’ve failed, spectacularly may I add.

First off, I want to state, that there is no shame in repeating exams.

You’re not 'stupid', you’re not 'thick', or anything else you might be thinking. You are extremely tough and it takes guts to tackle something again, knowing you were beaten the first time round. You are well capable of smashing it out this time, it’s second time, it’s fresh, and it’s going to be familiar.

If there is support, which there should be, take advantage of it. Go to your lecturers, they’re there to help, not give out because you didn’t make it. They want you to pass, they want you to do well.

The library during summer is about as appealing as shopping in Dublin on Christmas Eve.

However, there are some pros. The library will be quiet, all the books should be there, lots of space to pour over them all, you can get the full attention of the librarians and there’s no queues for the photocopier.

I recommend sourcing information from a few different libraries if you can, it’ll give some variety in answers on the day, and give you that extra edge.

Working with others can be helpful, I didn’t really do it, but I know it would have helped. Seeing what questions caught people out, and what others struggled with. Two heads are much better than one.

Grinds can also be worthwhile, especially with a graduate student or someone in the year above you.

They’ve been there, sat the papers and they’ve gone on. Who knows, they may have even failed at some point as well. They might be able to see where you’re going wrong, and they are always really lovely and helpful.

Pace yourself, it’s still your summer as well. Spoiling your entire summer will be pretty counter-productive come September when you do pass and it’s back to the grindstone again. There’s you, sleeping in lecturers, exhausted because you never had a proper break.

Study, and work hard, yes, but make sure you take time for yourself. Mix up your study routine, get family and friends to test you.

They all want you to do well.

In terms of the day itself, there’s a very different atmosphere than the regular exams.

Everyone tends to realise the severity of the repeats. The papers themselves tend to be nice, and if you’re really lucky you may have received a cheeky hint about what may/may not come up.

Best of luck!

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