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Rob Halpin, a 3rd year PhD student in Geography, talks about his experience of tests/quizzes

What do tests/quizzes look like in your discipline?

A test/quiz will often come in the form of a list of questions which formally test a student’s knowledge or proficiency in a subject or skill. In geography, these mostly come in two forms:

A list of questions with multiple choice answers.

A selection of essay questions which you must answer.

How do you prepare for tests/quizzes?

When preparing for a test/quiz, I will always first check what questions have come up in previous years’ tests (if possible). This helps me to become familiar with the format of the test and is useful for identifying the types of questions that might be asked, as well as informing my revision strategy. Additionally, practicing past exam questions (or sample questions) can give me the confidence that I am ready for the upcoming test. If preparing for annual Christmas/Summer exams in TCD, you can find past exam papers here.

Once I understand the format of the test and have assessed the possible questions/themes that can be questioned, I find the most important piece of preparation is creating a good set of notes. Whether the test is an open book test or a closed book test, my notes are my main source of information for answering questions. It is, therefore, important for me to create concise notes on all lecture material we have covered in the module, as well as any additional reading I have been assigned, so that I am prepared for any possible questions that could come up. If the test is essay-based, I also find it helpful to make notes for specific essay titles/themes which I suspect might come up in the test.

Tell us about your experience of doing tests/quizzes?

My experience with tests/quizzes has not always been a positive one. Tests can be high pressure situations and preparing for one can be quite mentally draining. To avoid feeling overwhelmed in the run-up to a test, it is important I give myself enough time to revise all the relevant material and prepare good notes. I try not to leave my study to the last minute and avoid having to “cram” for a test, as otherwise, I may feel unprepared. Also, I try to remind myself that all I can do is my best on the day and try not to put too much pressure on myself to achieve a certain result. We all have off-days and you can never guarantee that there won’t be a curveball question on the test that I haven’t prepared for, so I always try to keep my cool and be pragmatic during the exam.

What key tips or advice would you give to anyone doing this type of assessment?

Always review past papers (if possible). Past papers will give you an idea of the format of the test, as well as the possible questions which could be asked.

Create a good set of notes. As discussed, your notes will be your main source of information for answering questions, so it is important that they encompass all of the material you have covered in your module and any topics/themes you think may come up on the test.

If your test is essay-based, it may be helpful prepare notes for specific essay titles/topics which you suspect might come up.

Give yourself enough time to study the relevant material and don’t leave it to the last minute to “cram” for your test.

Always do your best to answer all the questions you can. Never give up and leave early.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to achieve a certain result. All you can do is prepare as best you can and give all your effort on the day of the test.

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