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All You Need To Know About Postgraduate Exams And Examiners

Many masters programs still use written examinations to assess all or part of the course, although in recent years other types of assessment have begun to be used. It is quite rare now for the whole assessment of a masters program to be through written exams, and in some cases there are no written exams at all. Some people like exams, some people hate them, so an important factor in your choice of course might be whether there are written examinations or not in a particular program. If you do opt for a postgraduate program with written exams, it is important that you prepare for the written examinations thoroughly, and by now you will know the way of preparing that suits you best individually. Whether you revise best over long periods or all at the last minute, whether you simply read your notes or re-write them in briefer form, whether you practise written exam questions or not, whether you revise best at night or in the daytime, are all things you will already know. The list below, therefore, is simply to remind you of a few important issues about preparing for written examinations at masters or PhD level.

• Remember that the exam will be testing your thinking, analytical skills and understanding and not just your knowledge – so simply filling your answers with learned facts will not be enough to succeed in a written exam at postgraduate level.
• Revise and learn ideas, with examples to illustrate them, and with evidence for and against the idea (or model or theory).
• Make sure you know the main sources on each topic so you can indicate where the ideas have come from and who the main thinkers and researchers are in the field.
• Plan your revision to give yourself plenty of time to revise before the written exams.
• Do not rely only on lecture/seminar notes on each topic. Make sure you have read more widely and have included ideas from this wider reading.
• Make sure you know exactly what each examination will (and will not) cover. This should be clear in the course or unit handbook, but tutors should be able to tell you if you are not sure.
• Read the instructions on the written examination paper very carefully so that you answer the right number of questions.
• Read each question several times to be sure you know exactly what it is asking you to do.

This section provides all the advice and information you need to know in order to prepare for your exams; including how to develop successful revision strategies and not only survive your exams, but excel in them!

Check out our blog on how to Revise Like A Genius!


An examiner is any person who evaluates an aspect of your coursework.

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Revision Strategies

Find out about revision strategies such as audio revision and visual revision strategies.

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Surviving Exams

We have some essential information to help ensure you survive your masters exams.

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