Institute of Archaeology


Revising for examinations

Tips and tricks for revising for examinations and tackling exam questions

Organising Your Revision

  • Make a list of topics covered in your module and deal with them systematically.
  • Reorganise your module materials (collate notes and readings into coherent topic bundles – use the handbook to help you).
  • Add to and comment on your old essays and notes - you know more than you did then.
  • Look at previous examination papers in the Library and attend the review sessions organised by your module co-ordinator.

Plan your time

  • Timetable your revision programme (e.g. daily study slots, group study sessions).
  • Allow time for breaks.
  • Review what you have revised regularly.
  • Allow time for relaxation and exercise.
  • Think of revision as a process of consolidation. This is an opportunity for you to make sense of the whole year's work.

Reviewing the Exam Paper

  • Do not attempt to write anything until you have read the whole paper.
  • Check how many questions need to be answered.
  • Read each question to make sure you understand what is being asked of you.
  • Select the question in the order you feel happiest with and put number 1, 2 etc beside it.
  • Once you have made your choices stick to it.

Interpreting the Question

  • Look at your questions carefully.
  • What type of question is it (compare, assess, how far do you agree with... etc.)?
  • What are the content assumptions underlying the question?
  • What are the discourse assumptions?
  • What is the issue to be discussed?
  • What do you think about the issue?

Organisation of Ideas

Consider the following in organising your response:

  • Topics you need to cover.
  • Terms/concepts you may need to define.
  • Examples to illustrate your arguments.
  • Theoretical models you may need to apply.
  • Evidence and scholarly arguments to support any arguments.
  • Include a concluding paragraph which sums up concisely how you have answered the question.