SOAS University of London

Student Advice and Wellbeing

Study Support: Exams

Exams can seem a daunting prospect. It is tempting not to think of them until the last minute. Essays, assignments and presentations seem to take all the time available during the first two terms…..and most of us don't really connect the work we do for these course requirements with the exams until we start to revise. But, if we think in a more integrated way, the exams can seem less of a mountain to climb at the end of the year.

What is a year long exam preparation strategy?

Well, it is not about getting worried about exams as early as October. In fact the intention is to make the exams less worrying and more of a continuation of the work you are already doing. It does involve a little thinking and planning ahead as well as some organisation of your resources. Some of these ideas come from students who experience acute exam anxiety and have developed good strategies to manage their anxiety.

Sample year long exam preparation strategy


You can start by beginning to look at last year’s exam papers and those of previous years.

Don’t expect to be able to answer the questions at this stage. However you will get an idea of the key areas which have come up in the past, which may be helpful when you are choosing assignment, essay or presentation topics. If you are a first year student you may find your concentration affected by the transition to university, and to the UK if you are also an international student. The Student Advisers and Student Counsellors are trained and experienced to help manage the effects of adjusting to new environments, people, financial and academic demands.

November & December

You can help yourself for the future by regularly organising your notes.

This will make them easier to refer to later when you start your revision. And you will remember more if you briefly review your notes within 24 hours of making them, according to memory experts.

If you are a disabled student and are likely to need specific exam arrangements, contact the Student Disability Office as soon as possible. You will need to submit your SOAS exam entry forms to the Registry by the end of the first term.

If you are already thinking about post-degree options, the Careers Service has information on job recruitment programmes and postgraduate study.

Some large firms and organisations start their recruitment process now.

January & February

Keeping up to date with reading and essays now will reduce the pressure when you come to prepare for exams.

As last term, you may want to relate your essay choices to areas likely to be covered on the exam paper.

If you are a disabled student and require specific exam arrangements and you haven’t yet let the Student Disability Officer know, do so NOW, Special Examination Arrangements or it may not be possible to ensure the arrangements are in place.

During this term, look out for sessions offered by the Learning and Teaching Unit and the Student Counselling Service on exam management and self-hypnosis techniques

The Student Counselling Service also offers a complementary health provision with Acupuncture and Indian traditional medicine Ayurveda which may be helpful with concentration, sleep disturbance and other anxiety symptoms.

March & April

Deadlines for essays!

If your essays are up to date, you should have about 7 weeks for revision. Have a realistic revision plan that covers enough areas, gives you time for some rest and relaxation, allows for some unexpected setbacks or for some tasks to take longer than expected. The Counselling Service web pages have information and suggestions on stress management, panic attacks, exam anxiety. You will also find links to other University counselling web pages with information on exam stress and anxiety. There are likely to be more workshops on managing exams and on self hypnosis techniques.

You should get your specific exam timetable about now. Make sure you know when your exams are to help plan your revision, for example whether you have some exams close together or whether they are spread out over several weeks.

If you are doing exams at other University of London colleges e.g. UCL or LSE, make sure you know the arrangements there and that there are no clashes that need to be dealt with.

The Careers Service is still available to help students to consider post-degree options including postgraduate study.

Don’t panic if you don't have clear ideas at this stage.

The timetable will be posted up on the Registry notice boards and the web (contact the Registry for information)

Individual timetables will be available from the faculty offices (contact your Faculty Officers nearer the time)

The exam session is between May – June.

May & June

Exams start. Pace yourself during this period. Give yourself a little recuperation time after each exam as exams are physically and mentally demanding. If anything happens that prevents you taking an exam, for example bereavement or illness, let someone know immediately. Contact your Faculty Student Support team or the Exams Office in the Registry

Exams will finish at different periods during May and June. Be considerate of others if you are celebrating: even if you have finished, others will still have exams to face.


The results will come out this month. If your name is not on the results list it may be that you owe SOAS money, including library fines. If you are unfortunate enough to have failed any exams, you will be informed by letter. Make sure you know whether you can resit in September (normally first year students only) or what other arrangements can be made to complete or continue the course successfully.

Who can help?
  • The Faculty Office can advise on academic procedures, retakes etc.
  • The Students’ Union can advise on appeals
  • The Welfare Service can advise on funding for repeat years
  • The Counselling Service can help you understand what may have happened to produce a fail as well as explore with you your different options and ways of managing exams differently in future

Further Information

For any further information relating to exams, please contact the Exams Office: