14 true ways to exam success

Exam season can be tough, but it doesn't have to be.  Check out our fourteen top tips for beating your exams at Royal Holloway!

1. Work out when and where you need to go

Smiling graduate‘Attending my exams enabled me to wear this outfit.’

You’d be amazed (or maybe you wouldn’t) at how many students just don’t show up for all their exams, and the easiest way to do this is to not check when and where yours are.  There’s no easier way to get a 0 than to not show up.

Exam timetables are available online on Campus Connect, and you can find out where your exam is located on our handy exam site map.


2. Read the instructions!

Pencil case‘Do I really need scissors and four different kinds of pencil in my English Lit final?’

Not only is the pencil case above an affront against good taste, it’s actually banned under Royal Holloway’s ‘Instructions to Candidates’.  Clear pencil cases only.  There’s a couple of things you might need to keep an eye out for – check out the Instructions to Candidates so you don’t get caught out.


3. Don't be late!

Alarm clockMaybe that 24-hour Community marathon was a bad idea...

It happens to the best of us – the train runs late, you miss the bus, your alarm doesn’t go off and you can’t find anywhere to park your car.  Late arrivals don’t get any extra time and if you’re over 30 minutes late your exam might not get marked at all, so make sure you factor in time to travel, park, grab what you need and arrive before your exam.  

Don’t park on local streets. Find out more on our ‘Getting Around’ webpages


4. Prove your identity

Girl with moustache‘I assure you that my name is, in fact, Ian Nolan.’ .

Royal Holloway checks that students taking exams are who they say they are.   Your College Card is your proof of your identity: if you don’t have one you might not be able to get in to your exam.  Lost yours?  Don’t worry – you can get a new one from the Student Services Centre.


5. Get the right equipment

Man with abacus‘Actually no, WH Smith did not have the exact model of calculator that I needed.’

If you need a calculator for your exam, make sure you get the right type – it needs to be one that’s been authorised and labelled by your department.  If you bring the wrong one it’ll get taken away, and you’ll be stuck doing calculations in your head.  If you can.  (square root of 27.4, now!)


6. Don't get in trouble with the law

Legal eaglesThis team of legal eagles will not save you and your crib notes.

Did you know that last year 80 students were investigated at Royal Holloway for examination offences?  The penalty for an examination offence might mean you have to repeat a year, or worse.  Make sure you check out the rules and regulations so you don’t get caught out.


7. Exercise

Runner's feetEgham Hill: beefing up those calf muscles even when you’re not on a run.

There’s no changing the fact that exams are tiring and stressful, but you can at least work off some of your stress by working out!  Exercise can make you feel physically more energised, and can improve your focus in exams.  The Sports Centre is offering a three month membership for just £50 and lots of free classes this term, so it’s a perfect time to get in a workout.


8. Learn from the past

Evil woman on computer‘Soon the answers shall be all mine!  I mean, ours!  All ours!’

You can’t know what your exam questions will be in advance.  Right?  Well, you can at least know the kind of questions you’ll get by downloading past exam papers online.  They’re a great way to test yourself and make sure your mind won’t be blown when you sit down for the real thing. 

Most Royal Holloway exams since 2010 are available online from the Library website, so read up and be prepared.


9. Cuddle up with cute animals

Baby pigletStresspig loves it when students come and pet him.  He gets so happy!

Nothing takes the edge off bashing out a dissertation or crunching down on revision quite like stroking the soft fur of a puppy who just wants your love.   The College has teamed up with the SU to organise some petting zoos and other events this summer – check out the online calendar to find out more.


10. Beat the noise


The Library’s a great place to knuckle down and revise – it’s nice and quiet, everyone else is studying too, and all the books you need are right here.  Except someone’s on the phone to their boyfriend who is inexplicably driving through a snowstorm and THEY HAVE TO SPEAK REALLY LOUD ALL THE TIME.

Text RHNOISE and your location to 80018 and Library staff will sort them out nice and diplomatically.

Someone set their speakers to stun in your Hall?  There shouldn’t be any noise (or guests) in Halls after 11pm.  If you’re being disturbed call Security on 01784 443063 or text RHhalls and your location to 80018.


11. Rest

Man on grass ‘My massive guns show I have also been observing tip #7!’

Whether you’ve got one exam or a hundred, if you don’t give yourself a break from studying you’ll eventually burn out – possibly before your first exam.  Royal Holloway has a beautiful, leafy campus and Windsor Great Park is only 15 minutes’ walk away.  Do your mind and body a favour and give it some time to relax outside!


12. Study in the right space


Library staff work hard to manage study spaces in the summer, including clearing study spaces in Bedford Library if they’re left for more than 45 minutes.  The Library also sends out live updates on where quiet study areas are available – follow @RHUL_Library to find your quiet space.


13. Eat right


Eating sugary food or excessive amounts of caffeine will give you a high – for a bit.  After that your blood sugar levels will come crashing down, making you feel fatigued.  Eating masses of carbs will also force your body to work breaking them down, again making you feel tired.  Not what you want on exam day!  Keep your diet balanced in exam season to give yourself your best chance.

It’s also important to keep drinking plenty of water.  Being dehydrated slows down the pace of chemical reactions in your brain, literally making you slower.  It’s okay to take a bottle of water in to your exam with you!


14. Watch our Quick Guide to Exams video

Girl taking exam‘I’m the best… AROUND… nothing is gonna ever keep me down!’  

Worried about what actually happens in an exam?  You’re not alone – lots of students haven’t had an exam in a university setting before, and it’s not exactly the same as in a school.  Our video Quick Guide to Exams shows you how it happens so you won’t have any surprises on the day.
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