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How to prepare for assessments

Advice to help you prepare for assignments, make the most of assessment feedback, prepare for your exams, and some tips and techniques to help you on the day.

Planning your assignments

  • Assignment planner
    Use this tool to create a personalised schedule for each of your written assignments (Source: UWE Bristol Library).

Poster presentations

  • Creating an Academic Poster
    This resource will help if you are producing a poster for a conference, tutorial, or a poster presentation for assessment.
    (Source: UWE Bristol Library)

Assessment feedback

Read our guidance on how to make the most of assessment feedback.

Exam preparation

  • How to do better in written exams
    Guidance on how to prepare for exams (Source: UWE Bristol Library).
  • Past exam papers
    Look at past exam papers. Even if the format is different, it still gives you an idea of the type of content that is typically tested.

Do you panic at the thought of exams?

There comes a time when less is more. A time to let go of the need to read what hasn't been read and just make sure you are in the best frame of mind to remember what you do know.

A bit of stress is important in keeping us sharp and motivated, the buzz can be enjoyable. However, as the anxiety rises, we reach a point where our performance begins to drop off.

Human beings are programmed with a reflex 'fight-flight-freeze' response to threat. We get a surge of adrenaline and other powerful brain chemicals which short-circuit some of the more complex thinking and memory parts of our brain - the very bits we most need in an exam.

These chemicals are great for getting us ready to fight off a threat - we breathe faster, taking in more oxygen so our heart can pump blood to our major muscles faster. No wonder we sometimes want to get up and run away when we feel panic in an exam. So what can we do?

Revising effectively

  • Try not to spend a lot of time around people who are stressed - it's infectious! Stick to those who understand, but can be reassuring and constructive. Be positive about yourself and remember what you have achieved in the past.
  • Take a 10 minute break every hour. Do a little light exercise to burn off any adrenaline and remove the stiffness that comes with sitting and concentrating.
  • Caffeine encourages adrenaline, which increases anxiety. Go easy on the coffee and remember that tea and many soft drinks are also high in caffeine. High sugar foods also result in 'lows' when your energy and mood drops rapidly. Eat a little and often and drink plenty of water - we dehydrate fast when we are stressed.
  • Allow yourself some fun and relaxation. Reward yourself after a period of concentration - this will help to keep your batteries charged.
  • Aim for plenty of high-quality sleep. Stop revising and relax for a while before you go to bed. Make sure you sleep well.

In the exam itself

  • If you feel panicky or blank, take time out to breathe very slowly until you can refocus. Don't worry if time runs out - towards the end of the exam, offering notes rather than full sentences can help you to pick up marks.
  • Remember that exams are not an assessment of your worth as a person. Some people are just good at exams rather than in the subject. Many exams are failed because of people's lack of self-esteem and anxiety, rather than any lack of ability or intelligence. And remember, most exams can be retaken if things do go wrong.

Academic advice

See further academic advice about assessments, feedback, assessment offences, extenuating circumstances and coursework extensions.


If you're still anxious about your exams, help is available through our health and wellbeing services.

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