In midst of the jolly festive season, one might find extreme lack of motivation and concentration to prepare for the impending January Exam (At least that is how I am feeling right now).


General exam studying tips are all over the internet, but here I am going to provide 3 exam tips I have developed and improvised over almost 16 years of formal education (along with some engineering specific tips).

  1. Do not peek at the answers


However tempting it can be to look at the answers before or whilst attempting the question, I strongly suggest otherwise, especially for modules that require comprehensive understanding (e.g. Year 2 Thermodynamics). What happens if you do the former is that you will lack the required thinking trail (the intermediate workings) that is absolutely essential to reach the final solution. The questions will almost never be identical, intermediate steps will be shuffled around so you aren’t able to¬†blindly apply the formulas.

The understanding part can be very time consuming (I often take hours just to solve one question), therefore you should always start studying early. As one of my math lecturer once said, “If you think every question is different, it means you have yet not fully understood the material. ¬†Only when you realise every question despite looking slightly different but is essentially identical do you really grasped the material.”

2.  Understand what studying environment works best for you


Some people like to study with music, some people don’t. Some like to study alone in their room, some like to study in groups or in the library.

If you stay in the halls and your flatmates is being loud, which happens a lot because everyone has different exam dates, some ends early, some late, some even don’t have exams in January. So while you’re trying really hard to understand 100 pages Manufacturing and Materials notes, someone around could be holding a party inconsiderately (no joke, happened to me last year). If telling them to lower the volume didn’t work, you can always call the 24 hours residential support (ressup) and they will kindly resolve the situation for you.

3. Finding a place in the library


If you’ve tried to look for a place in the Hartley library during exam season, 15 minutes of roaming around all 5 floors just for a spot is considered fairly normal. Although you are required to clear off your belongings if you are going to be away for more than 30 minutes, I have seen seats vacant for hours with the owner’s belonging still strewn across.

You can always try booking a room to study with your friends in advance on SUSSED, or book a seat on

On a side note, here’s a news on how police were called in due to a fight that broke out in the Hartley library just before exam week. (

4. Look for a trend in past years paper (PYP)


I’m sure this is what students do all the time but are less openly discussed. There is always a trend in the way the questions are asked and more often then not, what came out last year will probably come out again this year. Also, if it hasn’t been in the papers in the recent years, it’s is probably going to return this year. I am not suggesting to do this early in the studying process. It is always safer to studying everything and focus on the more probable ones right before the exams.

Other than that, some papers have multiple parts that lets you choose a few questions to answers instead of answering everything. Therefore it is always important to read your exam rubric to plan your strategies. There is a few papers where I completely omitted studying an entire section of the module and focus on the rest. Not to say this is the best learning tip out there, but if you’re out of time, this is probably going to save your life results.


I have obviously not included a lot of essential studying tips such as doing your own notes, colour code texts and just pure practising and memorising the material, but as said previously, there are countless of such articles on the web if you don’t already know them all by now. I hope these tips helped you somewhat and all the best for your exam!


p.s. Random trivia: The Scottish education system involves finishing their exams BEFORE the Christmas break, so if that appeals to you, you might want to consider studying up north.


4 Tips for January Exams

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