My online exam revision techniques

By Jojo (Student blogger: BSc Hons Economics)

Online exams are quite new to most of us. The university has set out different assessment formats for different modules. And my exams are all 2.5-hour single setting ones. So, I guess my exams do resemble the ‘real exams’, other than they are open book and involve having to type up my solutions.

Speaking of the new exam format, since it is open book, I have created a new set of revision strategies for myself. By all means, my revision techniques may or may not work for you and your subjects. So please do just see them as advice. And also, since my major is Economics, some of the revision techniques, namely the ones that are most efficient for tackling quantitative questions may not be viable for say an English major student.

I have to confess that I am not a big fan of flashcard revision. However, if you love doing flashcard revision, please do carry on, it may work for you!

My principal method of revision is to do questions, and I am keen to try out a wide range of questions on one topic. As I am an Economics student, there is a lot of quantitative stuff involved, so I always like to try out a variation of questions on one topic so that I can get how exam questions are generally being asked, and try to avoid any gaps in knowledge. So, let me give you an example, say the question asks you to find equilibrium solutions for a function. During revision, I would go through different types of functions, being careful not to do repetitive work on finding the solution of one particular function. The benefit of doing this is that you will have a better understanding of the topic. Also, you are less likely to panic in the exam if different variations of questions have already been practiced by you.

The other thing I like to do is to go through textbooks and PDFs (which can be sourced from One Search or Google). The one thing you have to appreciate is that the internet really does make things easier sometimes. Although we are Lancaster students, we do have access to a lot more learning content on the internet, such as PDFs from MIT, Yale and so on. The point is that these PDFs could help to enhance one’s understanding of the topic. This is because the lecture slides offered by lecturers are only a starting point, and people generally may not be able to cover everything in one lecture, so sourcing other resources to enrich your understanding of the topic is important. Moreover, I can’t stress enough the importance of textbooks, I have a lot of friends who have never looked into any textbooks in their learning (I mean yeah you could still do well if you don’t read the textbook, but…). Textbooks generally introduce and explain relevant topics which you can then build on with further reading. So, if you do have spare time for revision, try to read the textbook.

Revision techniques vary from people to people, and I just offered some of my own revision routines. Like I have mentioned before, not all people would benefit from doing what I am doing, just use the methods that you are most comfortable with and you will just do fine! So good luck!! 😉

Tips to Ace your Online Open-Book Exams

By Leanne (Student blogger: Business Management)

It’s time for the most crucial part of the academic year – finals. For many of us, these exams could make or break our final grade.

During the pandemic, most of us are faced with online open-book exams. At first, this might sound like a blessing, but we’ll soon find out that a relaxed deadline and uncontrolled environment could lead to our long-dreaded familiar friend – procrastination.

To avoid slacking and last-minute panicking, here are a few tips to ensure you’re prepared to ACE your online open-book exams!

  1. Create effective summary notes

I hate to break it to you but… relying on your search function isn’t enough! Creating your own concise and effective summary notes can reduce the time you spend searching through lecture notes. Take this as an opportunity to actively recall important parts of your lectures and process information in your own words.

  1. Apply your skills

Markers will be grading your answers based on how you tackle each question, this is especially relevant in essay-based exams. You should be focusing on forming linkages with frameworks taught in class and building a strong argument.

  1. Take the time to plan

Stay calm when reading your exam questions. Thoroughly examine and understand the question instead of jumping directly into it. Be cautious when identifying theories and structure your answers with clarity (e.g. PEEL answering technique).

  1. Practice time-keeping

A 23-hour submission timeframe might sound ideal until you find yourself being too relaxed during the exam, potentially leading to a lack of focus, discipline and critical thinking. We can combat this by practicing past papers, doing our best to stick to the given time and double checking our answers. The bottom line is: “One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  1. Don’t forget your mental health

Your grades do not define you! It’s important to remind yourself that you have enrolled onto the course and picked these subjects because of your interests. The skills you have nurtured over these past few months will benefit your career and life even if it does not show on paper. Your university experience is a stepping stone in life that guides you closer to where you are meant to be.

With all that being said, I wish you good luck in your online exams and all the best!


I’ve finished my 24-hour online exams. Here’s the tea…

By Sean (Student blogger: MSci Hons Computer Science)

I am done with my degree.

It feels surreal to say that, and I’m only able to because the Computer Science exams were held earlier than seemingly the rest of the university’s! Nevertheless, I’ve been there – sat for all 6 of my final, 3rd year Computer Science papers in a 24-hour, online, open-book exam format over the course of 3 weeks, and I’m here to tell you the things that stood out from my experience.

  1. The change of setting is your best friend.

You know that sinking anxiety you get when everyone’s huddling around the door to the exam hall, waiting to be let in? Those 2 tense minutes when the papers have been handed out but it isn’t 11:00AM sharp so everyone has to keep quiet and wait until they say you can flip over your sheets? That intense panic you get when they say “30 minutes left” and you’re still on question 2?

From my experience, these anxieties are all either greatly reduced or completely absent when taking an online exam. You might get the nerves during the buildup, but after the first 30 minutes you realize… you’re in the comfort of your own room (or the library, if that’s your thing). You know this place, unlike the cold, cruel exam hall. You don’t have 8 equally anxious people spaced 2 meters away from you in every direction, and you certainly don’t have hawk-eyed invigilators watching your every move.

To me, the fact that I didn’t feel like I was being forced to do everything a certain way gave me a great deal of privacy, and I was able to focus all that worrying energy into my actual paper. I could get a yummy snack or put on some music any time I wanted, so I felt very much in control. The amount of freedom, flexibility and confidence that gives you works wonders for your mental health and as a result, helps you when you’re answering those mind-boggling exam questions.


  1. You can pace yourself!

When I’m in a normal exam, I find I always have to save a portion of my brain cells for monitoring the clock. “Drat, it’s already 30 minutes, I have to move on to question 4, but I still have like 40% of question 3 to go… I guess I’ll have to skip a few points and come back to this later” … sound familiar?

Having my time limit be a whole day really made me realize how much stress a 3-hour window puts on your mind, and how well you can pace yourself when you don’t have that clock breathing down your neck. You have time to answer the questions to the best of your ability, and make sure that you get those points across clearly. Oh, you’re not in the mood for doing the exam right now? Take a walk and come back in an hour or two! It also helps eliminate situations where you might miss a question or two (speaking from personal experience…) because you have time to double-check your work. Having such a long time period was, to me, truly a godsend.


  1. Surprisingly, they feel more realistic

This last point is a bit unexpected, and honestly might not apply to every course (especially the more practical ones). However, I personally found that online exams feel more like what I would expect in a real-world setting over the carefully orchestrated and contained in-person written exams. In real life, you’re going to have access to your books, your computer and the internet. Recall questions don’t really take that into account and rely on you regurgitating information instead of understanding it. However, because these exams are open-book, and you have your resources ready, the questions are able to focus on your understanding of the material instead and provide a more helpful and realistic experience.

Honestly? I liked the online exams. Gasp, yes, but I felt these were a more effective way to evaluate students’ abilities than traditional exams. I’m glad I got to finish off my academic studies like this, because I don’t think there will come another opportunity like this one for a long while. Best of luck with your exams if you have any papers soon! They might still seem terrifying, but remember that at the end of the day, exams don’t and will never define who you are, so just go with the flow and give them your best shot.

The struggle is real

By Manuella (Student blogger: Economics and International Relations)

I have often heard the saying the struggle is real, then I begin to wonder; “the struggle is real, so what?” “What are you going to do about the struggle?” “How are you adapting to the struggle?” “Is it making you stronger?” “Or have you given up?” I guess these questions overwhelm us all, especially in this recent pandemic. As human beings, we evolve best by adapting to situations- so it’s no surprise that online learning has become the next best thing for us students. Nevertheless, I hope I can confidently say that, it has been a struggle for us all. It is quite intriguing to know that, this is not only the case for us students but for all stakeholders in our Universities. That being said, I am going to write five simple ways in which the struggle has been real for most, if not all of us.

  1. The Struggle to learn

Let’s cast our minds to a time before COVID-19, we all miss that period, but we could all agree that sometimes learning was a struggle then. It was the time we had to choose between social gatherings and staying in to burn the midnight candle. Now, so far gone, we are in a time when staying in is the best option. Yet, we can all admit that doing other things before study time has become the new dilemma. How do you pick an hour of full time learning over a new Netflix release? Or would you prefer a TikTok video to research work? All the same, it has been a struggle, and trust me, you’re not the only one going through it. I guess this is where discipline overrides being reluctant. You may not be alone, but you definitely could find other ways to make it work. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are able.

  1. The struggle to stay motivated

Motivation is another thing I do not frankly understand, especially motivational speakers. How can they be so sure that what they did will work for everyone? It is not a one-size-fits-all life, because we are all different in our own way and we see and react to things quite differently too. So the subject of motivation is a personal one, however, you have to (MUST) figure out what keeps you going. Obviously it ranges from a variety of things so I cannot tell you what they are specifically. I will however give you this thought; for a second, imagine having all your goals accomplished, the joy and satisfaction of it all- and simply run with that feeling all year round. Trust me, it works. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are stronger.

  1. The Struggle to be efficient

Efficiency could mean anything from organization, productivity, to just mastering a skill. Honestly, it is okay to just stay alive and have some form of routine. It doesn’t have to be perfect. As far as uni work goes, just divide the work load into mini tasks, so you can accomplish them slowly. Little drops of water do make a mighty ocean. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are trying

  1. The struggle for a functional environment

A functional environment is simply a good vibes only environment, one in which you can actively function for being human. It is an environment in which you can have good and bad days. Lazy days and productive ones. And frankly, they seem like bare necessities (jungle book song in mind), but it is sometimes a struggle to find. So in all you do make sure you find good vibes; it makes this whole “new normal” thing easy going. So yes, the struggle is real, but your vibes are good.

  1. The struggle to be supported

A support system is healthy for us all, and could take any shape or form. Personally, I have found that having friends or acquaintances who can relate to you is a perfect balance especially for academic work. What this does is that in the end, these people in your support bubble are there for you, and as humans that is essentially what we need. So strive to have a support group. I have a group of people I go to, from goal setting, and for laughs and it is the best combination of accountability and a social life. So yes, the struggle is real but so are the people around you.


All in all, this Uni thing is hard, and adulting is no joke too. So cut yourself some slack. You are trying to survive a pandemic and gain an education. You are doing just fine. Take a break when you have to, and keep your goals in that same mind space. You will be just fine. So yes, the struggle is real, but so are you.

Studying Online Efficiently (My Style)

By Azizan Anas (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics)

The rapid progression of technology can be beneficial, while also be disastrous depending on how you use it. As a result of the current Covid-19 Pandemic that’s happening worldwide, it can be seen that technology has played a huge role in students’ learning. More and more schools, institutions and universities are offering online-based materials which are accessible from the comfort of our home. However, this serves as a challenge for some students as being at home means that they are more susceptible to nearby distractions thus maybe more susceptible to distractions. I would like to share my ways of studying online effectively that I have been doing for the past few months.

Building Up Momentum

When you’re in the zone (of momentum), you will find it much easier to focus on the task you’re doing. This means you are able to do you tasks while being ‘in the flow’. From what I’ve noticed to achieve this state its better to do simple tasks such as making your bed or cleaning up and removing any possible sources of distraction before engaging in any online learning.

Preparing A Dedicated Workspace

By having our own dedicated workspace area to do our tasks, we can be far more productive (assuming that you’re not distracted). So, whenever you are in your workspace, your brain will recognize and remember that you will be doing work turning on your ‘working’ mode. This is much better than doing our work in different parts of the house where there could be other distractions such as people watching TV or talking with each other.

Have A Rest

It is essential to give yourself some rest, for both your body and your brain. The reason is that if we go on for a 2hours straight studying, our brain may feel overwhelmed and may not process some of the information while our body may feel tired and our eyes may struggle due to looking to the screen to watch lectures for 2 hours straight. I would suggest giving yourself a 4-5minutes break for every 40-45mins, where you can stretch your body or make yourself a cup of tea!

Why studying from home is actually decent…

By Safiya (Student blogger: BA English Literature)

‘Studying from home’ initially seemed so off-putting: from connectivity issues to lack of motivation due to being in your environment of leisure, virtual learning was not at all appealing. But sometimes you don’t need to think positively about something in order to enjoy it – you just need to experience it. And, after several weeks of studying online, I think many of us can say that this is actually not that bad.


Why studying from home is actually decent:

  1. There’s so much more time!

If anyone is a (now former) commuting student, you’ll have quickly realised how much time we now have! Balancing work and play was madness, and winging it was all I really did. But due to the lack of extra stress and super early get ups that often came with travelling, studying has never been more enjoyable.

  1. You can attend lectures/seminars from the comfort of your bed

Although it is advised to have a dedicated space for studying, especially whilst being at home, it wouldn’t be terrible to watch a lecture or two from your bed once in a while. You’re comfy, and you’re learning. Win-win.

  1. You can plan (most) of your studying around your own schedule

While seminars may have an allocated time, you can access the recorded lectures and reading materials at your own convenience. Early bird? Night owl? Schedule the lectures for whenever you want! If you want to minimise the number of ‘uni days’ you have, watch the lectures on the same day that you have the corresponding seminar. In this way, not only will the information remain fresh for discussion, but you will have more ‘free’ days for which you can dedicate other things! (P.S – if you’re in a hurry, you can speed your lectures up!)

  1. I’m…getting the reading done?!

Still can’t believe it. But, like aforementioned, due to the lack of travelling and extra stress, there is so much more time for work.

  1. Sleep schedule is now actually a schedule

Again, still can’t believe it. I used to be able to relate to every lack-of-sleep meme there was, but now they all seem like a distant memory.

Although online learning may still seem inconvenient and strange to some, it’s important to remember that this is new for almost everyone! And access to education, especially during a global pandemic, is definitely something we should truly appreciate.

Is 24/7 the new norm?

By Will (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Entrepreneurship and Management)

Wow, what a last few month’s hey? Feels like it’s been years, and that’s the problem for many of us. Time is molding into one undistinctive thing and our work lives are becoming ever interlinked with our personal space and activities. Our workspace is now our leisure space for most of the time, though this may seem efficient to some it presents a problem for many of us that it’s hard to differentiate when we should and shouldn’t be working. One of the great things about Lancaster University is the breadth of study spaces it has, from Cartmel study rooms on one side of campus to the health innovation campus on the other. In normal circumstances many of us relish the opportunity to rotate around campus and study under these different locations, constantly keeping the brain refreshed and environment exciting. However, circumstances are anything but normal now unfortunately, and for many of us these spaces are not longer accessible with our bedroom’s and houses the only places we can take refuge to both study and unwind. This is unfortunately not going to change for the foreseeable future, so how do we ensure we can still instigate a clear separation between our down time and work commitments?

My main recommendation is to work within clear and ‘normal’ defined hours. Most working people work between 9am and 5pm, and this is with good reason as it promotes a healthy sleep pattern and if followed through the week allows both Saturday and Sunday free for leisure. I write this blog for you now at 16:18pm on a Friday having started this morning at 9:12am, with a strict limit on myself to cease work at 17:00pm tonight and not resume until Monday 9am. This work schedule ensures I have adequate downtime at night to allow a restful sleep and early enough rising time to ensure that the workday is not wasted, and I have ample time to complete any work. Linked to this, is how it’s so easy to overlook the importance of the weekend and days off. This statement may initially seem novel, a university student that doesn’t have enough time off, is there such a thing? Well I would argue yes, however I do argue that we are poor at making our time off valuable and effective and resetting ourselves as it should be. Allowing the brain to relax, focusing on those interests we have and making time for others are all things we deserve to be doing every weekend. Whatever year or course we are studying, the amount of content is designed that we have free time, so if you feel that your weekends are too short or downtime not long enough. Ask yourself these questions; did I really start early enough today? Did I really finish early enough last night? Is my sleeping schedule that of a normal professional?

On the face of it, having a defined schedule and time limits on most aspects of our living may seem boring and frankly unnecessary. Take it from me however, this is the key to a much more successful university experience. Gone will be the days of all-nighters on assignments, hello to the time of unguilted leisure for the next 48 hours. University is a unique time when we both have the best times of our lives and experience some of the hardest work we must conquer. Allowing one’s self, the right mindset and time allocation is the best starting step we can all have to making the most of each and every day.

Managing your time and essentially your (uni) life!

By Lucy (Student blogger: MSc Management)

As someone who finds myself more on the extraverted side of the scale in terms of my personality I was absolutely dreading the whole idea of online learning. I get my energy and motivation from the human interaction with people around me and I thought the whole process of online learning was going to be a barrier in terms of my motivation to study and ability to meet new people. The endless zoom quizzes, virtual hugs and tiny squares with familiar faces really had left me in a bit of a slump with the idea of this being the new normal for a while. So, when the first academic week rolled around and notifications for online lectures started firing up I didn’t really know where to begin.

Trying to remember all the online lectures, deadlines and reading preparation can be quite overwhelming and it can leave you thinking that you have such little time to get through the workload. Without the ‘normal’ routine of face-to-face teaching it can be easy to lose track and forget that there’s 24 hours in a day. A lovely lecturer called Poppy once gave me the best advice when it comes to managing your time, deadlines and essentially your life!

  • Using the 8/8/8 system to schedule your day – Its very easy to get overwhelmed with juggling university work, seeing friends and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But its easy to forget that you can achieve a lot in 24 hours. The 8/8/8 system is a framework for splitting up your day into 8 hours sleep, 8 hours of work (including lectures and timetabled sessions) and 8 hours of time to relax, exercise, eat, socialise or whatever you please. Obviously it is not always achievable but it’s a good target to aim for!
  • Have some form of a planner – whether this is a diary or a calendar being able to physically see lectures, events and deadlines helps to organise your time. You can set yourself mini deadlines in relation to assessments so that everything is not last minute.
  • Make sure you have breaks from the screen – this could be going for a 5 minute walk, doing 10 squats or having a quick chat with a friend. Having little breaks away from the screen helps with your concentration and general well-being.

Whatever your opinion on the online learning situation, I feel it is always important to try and take the positives from new situations – even if it means doing lectures in your pjs!

I Kind of Like Online Learning Now

By Sean (Student blogger: MSci Hons Computer Science)

Coffe, muffin and laptop on bed

Not gonna lie, when I first heard that we would be switching to an all-online curriculum, I cringed. I’d heard stories from my friends studying in other universities about how mind-numbingly painful online lectures were as their lecturers droned on and how crickets chirped each time their seminar leaders asked if “anyone else knew the answer”. Here we go, I thought, I’m going to lose all my interest and spark in my degree, drop out of university and end up homeless from the thousands of pounds of debt I have on my shoulders…

Two weeks in, however, and I kind of… like online lectures now? Put your pitchforks down and let me explain! While I do miss seeing my friends, taking the bus, being on campus, and the overall buzz of in-person classes, there are a few things I’ve learned to appreciate about their virtual counterparts.

1. I can go at my own pace
With everything being online, I don’t feel as much pressure from being able to access my academics from the comfort of my home. Sometimes, having to hop from class to seminar to lab in the span of 3 hours can be very tiring, and studying tends to be the last thing on my mind after the long bus ride home! We’re having none of that this year- spaced out classes and comparatively mellower days are giving me the break I need, all while maintaining the momentum of being in education.

2. Asking Questions
I don’t know about you, but the Q&A sessions in my lectures tend to either be crickets or dominated by the same two people every single lecture. Just the thought of having the whole lecture hall of 150 students turn to hear you squeak out what you probably think is a stupid question is enough to put most people off.
However, things seem to be changing with the introduction of Q&A sessions over call or over chat. I’ve definitely seen an increase in eager queries- and I’m finding it a lot healthier and more helpful with my understanding of the course material.

3. They’re absolutely convenient
Not having to physically commute to class is one of the best things to come out of this once you look past the “I don’t really feel present” part. I can wake up and immediately zip over to my desk to sit in for my 9am (or even better- just attend it in bed!). I save hours not having to wait for and get the bus to and from campus, which can very often kill my “study” mood. Not to mention: I’ve saved over £250 from not having to buy the 3-term bus pass- absolutely amazing.

I know online learning is a big change, and definitely a very unfamiliar one. However, every cloud has a silver lining- even if it’s switching to online curriculum during a global pandemic. Sometimes, we get so distraught with all the negatives that we end up overlooking the small wins right in front of us.

Stay safe, guys, and work hard!