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Preparing for exams in the UK as an international student


14 April 2015

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Exams are exams right? You learn all the information you’ve been taught for the module, then prove that you know it? If only it was that simple.

As an international student, your anxieties about exams are probably much broader. If you are new to the UK, then here are a few things to keep in mind, way before you are swamped down by revision:

Language Barriers

If English is not your first language, and you have trouble with the language, then get help. QMUL Language Centre offers excellent support to students for English Language.  Think about how confident you feel during your lectures. Do you feel that you can follow them with ease? Do you feel able to participate in class discussions? Do you feel positive about your assignments? If you have concerns at any of these stages, then it is possible that you will have difficulties in your exams. Take advantage of in-sessional language sessions, or the additional help the language centre offers.

Exam Structure/Format

Different countries have different exam formats. These changes could be something as straight-forward as the length of exams, duration of the exam period, or far more subtle differences such as the type of answers tutors expect, the referencing systems used etc. It’s not always easy to figure out these in advance, because differences are not spelt out. There are generally no international students specific exam guides to help, so if you are at all doubtful about the expectations, speak to your tutors. All QMUL tutors offer office contact hours at least twice a week, and are happy to talk to you if you need extra help. Use those office hours. Make sure you keep them aware of your added concerns as an international student.  You can find office hours of your schools’ faculty by going to your individual school.

Exam Environment

Different countries have varying levels of strictness regarding their exam environment. This could be things like being allowed to visit restrooms, being permitted to have mobile phones, passing a calculator or stationery to fellow students or bringing in textbooks. Make sure you know the rules. If in doubt, ask. Do not assume that the rules will be the same as your home country.

Taking your first exams as an international student can seem like a daunting experience. The key is to prepare in advance, and not to hesitate to ask for help. QMUL offers great support. Reach out to your academic school, to your tutors, as well as your peers. If you are prepared in advance, it will become a lot less intimidating when it comes to taking your exams.

Blog provided by Dolly Garland, MA English Literature student at Queen Mary University of London.



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