HiMolde-student Hekar Majid starts the day with prayers and healthy food. Photo: Kelvin Prince Arthur

Exam mode activated

Preparing for an exam may be a bittersweet experience. No matter how learned you are, there is always the tendency to feel anxious about the task you have ahead of you.


A lot of people walk into the exam room with the feeling that they have not prepared well enough even when they have covered all there is to learn. Well, that is only natural.

A simple theory called ‘Bounded Rationality’ can be used to explain this feeling. This theory establishes the fact that human beings lack the cognitive abilities to predict the future outcomes of situations they may face. It further states that rational human beings will only make decisions that are satisfactory and favorable to them, rather than making the optimal choice.

In this case, students are simply unable to predict the questions they are going to face at the exam. A lot of people who are academically inclined have shared their own views of things to do in order to succeed with examinations. The reality of the matter is, there is no clear cutting formula that will guarantee a person success in examinations. The best way known to humanity is to study and prepare well enough by covering all relevant areas of study.

A few students have shared with us the kind of routines they put themselves through in preparing for examinations:

Olav Grimstad kontrollerer stressivået inn mot eksamen. Photo: Kelvin Prince Arthur

Olav Grimstad, Norway, MSc Supply Chain Management

«Den beste måten for meg å forberede meg faglig til eksamen er utvilsomt å jobbe godt gjennom hele semesteret, så jeg slipper å ta «skippertak» noen uker før. Om jeg klarer det, pleier ikke eksamensstresset å komme før samme dag eksamen begynner. Dagen før en eksamen, gitt at jeg er godt forberedt, bruker jeg som regel ikke mer enn en time eller to på kort repetisjon og velger heller å slappe av for å ikke stresse for mye. For øvrig har jeg en litt uheldig rutine med å alltid sove dårligere og mindre enn jeg ønsker natta før, uavhengig av hvor godt forberedt jeg er. Jeg liker også å ha god tid om morgenen til å lage meg en god frokost og forsøker å unngå å stresse for mye. Jeg har erfart at jeg presterer bedre på eksamen om jeg klarer å kontrollere stressnivået mitt rett før eksamen.»

Hekar Majid’s best tip is to prepare for the exam throughout the semester – not the last week before the exam. Photo: Kelvin Prince Arthur

Hekar Majid, Norway, MSc Supply Chain Management

«I always wake up early, which is an advantage for me to utilize my day to the full extent and start by meditating – praying to purify my soul and have a calm start to a new day. After that, I always eat breakfast, something healthy like eggs which are often included in my breakfast, and of course a glass of milk. It is important for me to have a calm start and great food to keep me functioning throughout my exam preparation.

I usually have two different techniques for exam reading, depending on the course being primarily qualitative or quantitative. If it is leaning more towards quantitative, I try to work on the exercises I cannot solve by analyzing the previous exams and try to connect the important elements with the subjects of the course that have been highlighted throughout the semester. When the course is qualitative, it is important to read lecture slides/eventually some Panopto videos that have been uploaded on essential topics that are kind of arduous to comprehend.

Nonetheless, sometimes I procrastinate which is a quite normal thing for all students. I think one of the greatest reasons for procrastination is because we are lazy which is dependent on how we understand subjects. We want to find the easiest ways to solve our problems, in this case understanding subjects related to the exam. If I find some subjects difficult to understand, I can easily start deviating from my exam reading. This is why I always try to find an easy explanation and write down as little as I can. It is better to understand the core elements rather than blabbering or writing half a page on something.

However, conclusively, my best tip for anyone is to prepare themselves for the exam throughout the semester, try to connect and find the dots. Do not think that you can learn everything one week before the exam. Some courses are too difficult for such an approach.»

Wanitchaya Siriphrakmanon is 1 day miracle girl. Photo: Kelvin Prince Arthur

Wanitchaya Siriphrakmanon, Thailand, MSc Sustainable Energy Analytics

«I don’t like reading at all. I always try to find the shortcut way by searching the topic and I learn by myself. You will normally find me on YouTube trying to find a short cut.

But, I have already had an oral exam for 1 hour in a course that you really have to understand. So I redid the assignments and practiced a lot.

I am what people call a 1 day miracle girl. I love rushing time and studying around the clock. I also hate the idea of drinking coffee before the exam and I don’t like to eat before the exam, because I might fall asleep during the exam .»