Preparing to Sit Exams: Discussion

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“Preparing to sit exams” – Challenging exams (discussion topic).

Group Discussions are the “most challenging” and Takeaway Papers are the “easiest” for me.

I feel that group discussions contribute a more significant amount of difficulties to an examination process as a group of people conversing, naturally, means a wider range of foreign opinions, thoughts, insights etc. In comparison to an exam whose participant is yourself and a lecturer (who marks according to a rubric – generally) – the answer is, to say, “fixed” and unlike the aforementioned group discussion, it can not (or not often will-) ‘change topic’ or include conflict between differing opinion. Some group discussions may be related to a political scenario in which opinion dominates educational opinion. In saying this, not all group discussions are as “heated” as others but the point remains that people agree and disagree with one another. Group discussions as well neglect the personalities of some students participating, the “stereotypical” introvert will most likely not function effectively in a crowd, however, they will function effectively in a quiet and well-monitored exam environment.

To write on my “easiest” selection of “Takeaway Papers”.

Takeaway Papers allow the student to choose their environment, whether a social café or silent room and do not restrict students to a time restraint (meaning not 1:30hr-3:00hr to write an exam but rather, say, 24hr+). One may argue that takeaway exams are just open-book tests but longer (which they are), but in a real-life environment, people have 24/7 access to sources such as google… Takeaway Papers, additionally, do not force students to remain still in a room for 1:30hr+ which, in many cases I’m sure, has some sort of mental effect – speaking from someone with ADHD, I do not function well… - At home I can pause my work, make something to eat or go for a short walk (I’d say healthier – fresh air etc). I recall high school exams being incredibly difficult and not the test themselves… rather the writing in a room for 3 hours straight, followed by an immediate trip home to study for the next test – not mentally or physically healthy.


My suggested tips for Group Discussions? I don’t necessarily have any…

Preparing extensive notes, prepare to be empathetic with others’ views and maybe a dose of coffee in the morning for social energy.

I am interested to hear others suggested tips for group discussions and how to approach them.


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Thanks for kicking off the discussion, Shawn :star_struck:. This is a great response - very detailed. I’m interested to hear how group discussions are the most challenging for you. Do you have much experience with these and with turn-taking/politeness strategies? What advice would you give others?

I actually find takeaway papers quite stressful because there’s often a lot to do in a 24- or 48-hour period. If you haven’t prepared well or if you’re feeling a little under the weather, these can be particularly difficult.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what others think over the next week or so. Please return to this forum over the next two weeks to check and comment on others’ responses…

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Hi Shawn!
I can see where you come from, and I think you have already mentioned good ways of dealing with group discussions. For me, it is mostly knowing your facts. If someone starts being all extroverted and confident with more “populist” ideas, I can feel cornered if I am not confident I know better, I therefore really try to read my texts. Also either getting a good night’s sleep or a coffee before helps with being ready for more expressive colleagues.

For me, these three Exam types that are most difficult:

Computational Exams

  • I often make mistakes when writing down numbers or they just get fumbled in my head
  • In preparation, I would practice in conditions as closely representing exam conditions and during the exam I will take the time to check twice, rather that do trice.


  • I used to be very scared by them, and it always got hard to breath and then because I was nervous I would laugh a lot and I was given the feedback that I didn’t take it seriously enough
  • I have worked on overcoming this and I now do some calming exercises before and when I presented my final year thesis (a moment where it finally kind of mattered to be serious) I kept calm and did well, so I try to remember that

Timed-Writing Exam

  • I struggle formulating my thoughts in a concise way when under pressure
  • A way I plan on battling that is by practicing writing down main concepts for each thinker so I already know how to connect different ideas before

Do any of you have more tips on how to deal with these?
All the best,

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