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5.2.3 A breathing exercise

  1. Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of eight. As you breathe in, imagine you are filling your stomach / abdomen area first, and then your chest.

  2. Hold this breath in for as long as it is comfortable.

  3. Expel the air out through your nose for a count of eight, expelling the air from your abdomen upwards through your chest.

  4. Refrain from taking another breath until it becomes uncomfortable, and then r
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4.2.4 Plan your time

When planning to use the time available, you should:

  • make sure that you are answering the right number of questions

  • divide your time according to the weighting of the questions

  • write down the finishing time for each question

  • try to allow for 10 minutes checking time at the end.

Stick to your plan. Evidence indicates that two half-answered questions obtain more marks than one completed
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4.2.2 Read the whole exam paper through carefully

Students often describe feeling that everyone else starts writing confidently, straight away. Make sure you allow yourself at least 5 minutes to read calmly through the paper. It is tempting to grab at familiar questions, possibly even misreading them and turning them into the questions you want to answer. If you carefully and steadily unpack the questions, you will inevitably make a better selection.


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4.1.1 Getting off to a good start

You may find it useful to plan the way you will start your exam. Having a routine can be calming when under pressure. This is from a student who recommends a checklist:

I have a mental checklist of what I need to do once I've turned over the paper. I do this because I used to rush in and answer the fir
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3.12.4 Modern Languages

In modern languages courses, as you would expect, the emphasis includes listening and speaking skills as well as reading and writing skills. To learn to be creative and spontaneous in the language you are studying, you need to practise listening and speaking throughout the course and in revision. Working through t
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3.8.2 Analysing and answering essay-based exam questions

For the following activity, you can use questions from a specimen paper, past papers or even questions you have devised for yourself.

Activity 9

Exam questions for essay-based courses often contain 'process words'. T
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3.8 Stage 6: Rehearsing answering exam questions

Just like assignment questions, exam questions should be read carefully, because you need to demonstrate in your answer that you have understood the question. Examiners frequently complain that students lose vital marks through failing to read and interpret the questions properly.


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3.5 Stage 4: Making a revision timetable

There are no hard and fast rules about when you should start to revise. Some people say you should have a revision strategy set up from the start of a course, typically involving careful and systematic highlighting of study texts and the making of condensed notes on key course elements. Others would say that it is only in the later stages of a course that material comes together in a sufficiently meaningful way to make a revision strategy possible. The time you have available, and your own st
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3.1.1 First find a place to revise

Other than the obvious suggestions of having a warm, well-lit and comfortable place to work, we also suggest that you think about choosing a revision place where you can spread out your materials and leave them as they are, without having to pack anything away. This means that you can pick up and put down your revision whenever you find time to revise. This will help you to make the most of your revision time.

On the other hand, you may find that you concentrate better away from the dis
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2.1 Finding out your key concerns

Each one of us has a different set of concerns about preparing for and taking exams. It is worth spending a little time reflecting on these concerns and identifying what your individual needs are, in order to set up good support strategies for yourself.

Activity 1

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References

Entwistle, N. (1997) ‘Contrasting perspectives on learning’ in Marton, F., Hounsell, D. and Entwistle, N. (eds) The Experience of Learning: Implications for teaching and studying in Higher Education, Edinburgh, Scottish Academic Press Limited.
Marton, F. and R. Saljo (1997) ‘Approaches to learning’ in Marton, F., Hounsell, D. and Entwistle, N. (eds) The Experience of Learning: Implications for teachi
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5.1.6 Are the conclusions justified?

Though I was interested in the idea of treating high incomes as ‘pollution’, I did wonder whether taxing people to pay for the pollution caused by their rising incomes would work. In general though I was reasonably convinced by the conclusions Layard drew. On the other hand, if I was studying the subject more seriously, I might find that wider reading and further thought would make some of the conclusions seem less convincing.


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5.1.5 Is there an alternative school of thought?

I guessed that plenty of economists would disagree with Layard's point of view, if he is right that they have not used measures of happiness and have treated rises in real incomes as an unquestioned ‘good thing’. If I were studying this topic seriously, I would search for an article which tackled Layard's arguments from another perspective. When you encounter new ideas, it is useful to get more that one perspective on them, so that you can weigh one against the other.


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5.1.4 What evidence is offered?

Layard frequently offers evidence for his main points. I had the impression that this was just a sample from a wide range of relevant evidence that he had reviewed. Because of the prestigious context, I tended to assume that the evidence would be reliable and that Layard's interpretations would be pretty watertight. Nothing in the evidence seemed to conflict with my existing knowledge. However, if I were studying the subject more thoroughly, I would go back to the lectures from which his arti
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5.1.3 Does the argument follow logically?

As I was making sense of paragraph 3, I did pause to consider whether it was logically possible to say that on average richer people are happier, yet getting richer has not made us happier. Later, when I read that women in the US were less happy since their incomes had come closer to men's, it occurred to me that they would be unlikely to volunteer to revert to previous levels of inequality. This made me question what happiness really means, if it is not necessarily a state that a person woul
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2.1.3 Concept cards

Another way to tackle unfamiliar words is to start a ‘concept card’ system, using index cards. When you meet a word which seems important, take a new card and write the word at the top, followed by any useful information you have found. File the cards alphabetically and add details as you come across new information. (It is worth getting an index card box anyway, then you can try out various ways of using it to organise your studies.)


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6.2.1 Using a sales website

A visitor to a sales website is usually able to:

  • browse through the details of the goods for sale;

  • search for a particular product;

  • check on the availability of goods;

  • read reviews of the products by other purchasers;

  • register to receive newsletters which detail new items of interest;

  • buy products using credit or debit cards, and in some cases, other payment methods such as cheq
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6.2 Different kinds of ‘evidence’

The terms you use and the ways in which you support your argument depend on the subject you are studying and what kind of text you are talking or writing about.


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Acknowledgements

Course image: Simon Law in Flickr made available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence.

All materials included in this course are derived from content originated at the Open University.

Don't miss out:

If reading
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4.3 Pie charts, bar charts, histograms and line graphs

These are all different ways of representing data and you are likely to be familiar with some, if not all of them. They usually provide a quick summary that gives you a visual image of the data being presented. Below, we have given a brief definition and some ideas of how each can be used, along with a corresponding activity. We suggest that you look out for similar examples in everyday life, and question the information that you see.


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