top of page

Top Tips for Exam success.

Exams, exams, exams! To some the bane of one’s academic progress, to others just another

hurdle you need to jump in order to progress. However you see them, they are unavoidable (usually) and inevitable during higher education so it’s best to know how you’re going to tackle them and EXCEL!

Naturally, “exam season” can be a daunting experience despite how many times you’ve sat exams in the past. Sometimes it’s the feeling of being overwhelmed by the vast amount of information that you are expected to learn and retain, the pressure to perform well or the realisation that you’ve got 2 weeks left until your exam and haven’t even touched the syllabus! Whatever it is you’re feeling, know that others before you have been in the same boat, yet they excelled. Exams are important and just like anything else you give importance to in your life you, should aim to attribute the same mind-set to exams. With the right planning and mentality, you should be well-prepared come exam day.

Dr William Adeboye MBChB, MRes (Dist.), Academic Foundation Doctor, shares his tried and tested tips for exam success.

I would like to share the advice that I wish I had as a younger student about to embark of the numerous of exams that would make up my 6th form, Medical school and Master’s degree journey - you can tell I like studying! Do stick with me and hopefully this helps you in your endeavours.

Disclaimer : This is, by no means, an exhaustive list but from doing my own research and seeking advice from peers, I’ve found these key points to be extremely useful.

Planning – by far the most important!

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Thorough preparation should ideally put you in good stead come exam day. Undoubtedly plans are subject to change but a general overarching plan will surely help. But how does one plan? Well, in my experience you need to know three important things. Firstly, what is the syllabus? Second, when is the exam date and third, how are you going to be examined?

What is the syllabus? Whether in 6th form or University, each exam is based on a syllabus which should be available to you. These may vary from being succinct to the vaguest statements you could imagine, but they exist. These pieces of documents are paramount - being familiar with the syllabus content means that you, your tutors and examiners will be all be singing from the same hymn sheet.

When is the exam? Once you know the exam date; coupled with the syllabus, you can roughly allocate the time needed to prepare. There may be cofounding variables such as the academic weighting of the exam and your academic prowess on topics but make an educated guess on what you think would be a suitable amount of time, then add on a bit extra for leeway.

How will you be examined? Is your exam primarily multiple choice questions? Short-based answers or long prose questions? Oral vivas or practical scenarios? Whatever the format, get familiar with the layout and practise!

Be strategic with revision techniques


Make use of resources

SWOT analysis

It may take a village...

Be conscious of setbacks


Look after yourself

Finally, remember that exams are unavoidable and inevitable. You want to be well-prepared in order to help you excel. Also, whilst reading this you may have noticed I refer to doing well in exams with the word excel. It was intentional. If you’re reading this I don’t want you just to pass, I want you all to EXCEL!

Good luck with all your future exams.


1. Dunlosky, John et al. “Improving Students' Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology.” Psychological science in the public interest : a journal of the American Psychological Society vol. 14,1 (2013): 4-58. doi:10.1177/1529100612453266

2. Karpicke, Jeffrey D, and Janell R Blunt. “Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping.” Science (New York, N.Y.) vol. 331,6018 (2011): 772-5. doi:10.1126/science.1199327

3. Rasch, Björn, and Jan Born. “About sleep's role in memory.” Physiological reviews vol. 93,2 (2013): 681-766. doi:10.1152/physrev.00032.2012

Written by Dr William Adeboye MBChB, MRes (Dist.) Academic Foundation Doctor


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page