10th December 2020

Exam Planning

For information about exam support during the current pandemic, look at our COVID-19 exam support

The examination period can be challenging, and your SU has a wide range of information available to help you, all the way from revision to getting your results and beyond.

No matter whether you are looking for a good study space, considering applying for extenuating circumstances, or want to know the do's and don'ts on the day, this section has the information you need.

You can also find out about the wide range of support services available at the Students' Union and University who can help you.

  1. Preparing for your exams
  2. Extenuating circumstances
  3. Exam wellbeing and support
  4. Exam do's and don'ts
  5. If things go wrong

You will hear lots of different things about the right way to prepare for exams, but it is important to find what works best for you. A good place to start is the University's revision hints & tips webpages. 301 Centre offers a wide range of study skills support.

There is no one right way to revise, and forcing yourself to work in a way which doesn’t suit you can actually make revision more difficult, stressful and exhausting. Some people prefer to work early in the morning, while others revise best late at night. Some people create detailed revision plans, while others take their revision one step at a time and pick topics as they go along. The 301 Skills Centre offers a wide range of training and online resources which you might find helpful.

Tom Stafford, senior lecturer in the Psychology Department, has written an interesting article about revision tips which work for most people.

In the build up and during exams your Students' Union becomes a Revision Hub - a space where you can revise in a warm, quiet and relaxing environment.

Dedicated revision spaces are available in the Gallery Area on Level Four of the Students' Union Building from 9am - 9pm Monday to Friday during the exam period. 

But don’t feel you are limited to revising in these spaces. Coffee Revolution provides a welcoming and flexible area to work - perfect if you revise best with friends or to the gentle aroma of coffee and cake!

If you're finding it hard to get into study-mode when you’re not in Sheffield, try going to your local library! It can be a great, quiet place to get work done away from the distractions of friends and family at home.

And if you need to borrow books or don't have access to a local library, why not try the SCONUL scheme, that allows you to use other university libraries across the country. The online application process is quick and easy, but you should also contact the library you want to use to check if it has any additional registration requirements or restrictions (eg. at busy times of year).

The libraries are a great resource that we really encourage you use, but they can get very busy this time of year so research study spaces in advance to make sure you get a seat. And when you're there, remember that everyone is trying to work, so please be considerate to those around you.

Don’t take up multiple seats with your bags or sit at a PC if you’re not using it, and try not to make a lot of noise. Take our 'What kind of library-user are you?' quiz and spot if you have any of these bad habits!

If you are in one of the University libraries and you want to take a break from your studies, while saving your place, doing this has been easier than ever. Just pick up a Study Break Pass from around the library, or at the library services desk, fill it out and place it clearly at your space. Remember to take any valuables with you.

Extenuating circumstances

Extenuating circumstances can be any circumstances outside your control that impact your performance in an assessment. Personal or health problems can throw your revision and exams into chaos and worrying about that can make things even harder. So it is vital you don’t try to struggle through on your own.

Exam wellbeing and support

Both the Students' Union and University have support services that can help you manage the different pressures of exams. If you are worried about yourself, or a friend, you can contact them directly for support and advice.

See the Services

  • Student Advice Centre: 0114 222 8660 – advice on special circumstances, re-sits and appeals.
  • Your department: it is important to let your department know if you are experiencing any difficulties.
  • University Health Service: 0114 222 2100 – for general physical and mental health concerns. Doctors can make recommendations to the University about your exam arrangements.
  • SAMHS: the University's first access point for any student wishing to access mental health support.
  • Big White Wall: free online mental well-being support.
  • Disability and Dyslexia Support Service: 0114 222 1303 - for help and advice about special exam arrangements and learning support needs arising from your disability.
  • Central Welfare & Guidance: 0114 2224321 - for University support with urgent situations or personal difficulties.
  • Nightline: 0114 222 8787 - listening service from 8pm till 8am.
  • Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Service: 0114 222 8923
  • Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 - confidential non-judgmental emotional support, 24 hours a day.

Good to know

If you are feeling anxious, upset or simply in need of time to yourself, the Students’ Union’s Quiet Room is a warm, safe spot of calm tucked away on Level 2, opposite the Prayer Rooms. Please feel free to use it.

The University Counselling Services runs free Mindfulness and Stress Reduction workshop sessions every Wednesday. All you need to do is turn up!

If you’re not eating properly, there’s no way your brain will be working at full capacity. Bring food or buy a hot meal at the library cafe, just make sure you factor in a proper lunch break (away from your desk!) Make time in your revision plan to stock up on some brain food and cook yourself a hearty meal. Better still, get together with friends to share the cooking and washing up. It is completely valid to take the time out to make sure you do this, and you’ll study better for it!

A good night's sleep is vital to recharge your brain after a day of revision, but worrying about exams can make sleeping difficult. Tell yourself - it is okay to stop revising for the night in order to get a good night's sleep - in fact, it can improve your memory and study performance in the long run! However, some students may find themselves experiencing sleep difficulties.

It's important to keep a balanced schedule during the exams period, which means taking regular breaks and keeping up with the things you enjoy. There’s plenty going on across campus, so whether you want to try something different, meet new people, or just keep your fitness up, there's something for everyone.

Sport Sheffield gym facilities at the Goodwin Sports Centre will be available on a “Pay & Play” basis throughout the exams period to help you de-stress and keep physically active. You can find out more information, including opening times and classes, at the Sport Sheffield website.

Fancy meeting new people or trying out something different? Sport Sheffield will also be running a variety of different Social Sport sessions during the exams period. Find out more about social sport.

Give it a Go is an events programme full of one off activities for you to try while you are a student here in Sheffield. All the activities work on a pay as you go basis - just make sure to grab a ticket!

Exam do's and don'ts

Your Exam- Do's and Don'ts

Your Exam- Do's and Don'ts

Most people know that they shouldn’t take a phone into an exam, but did you know that smart watches are also not allowed? Expect a grade of 0 if you are found with either during an exam, even if it is switched off. To avoid any risk, leave your devices in your bag or in the envelope supplied by the invigilators.

It is your responsibility to make sure you don’t have any notes or annotations in dictionaries, permitted reference books or calculators. The invigilators will be checking for unauthorised material during the exam and the University will not accept 'I didn't know', 'I forgot' or 'It was approved by SSID' as excuses.

If you need independent, confidential advice about your exams, including if you have been accused of cheating please get in touch with the Student Advice Centre next door to SSID in the Students' Union.

To make exams fair for everybody, the University has clear rules about what you can and cannot do in an exam. Breaking these rules, even unintentionally can lead to a mark of 0 so it is really important to understand what you can and cannot do.

No matter how worried you are about your exams, cheating is never the right answer.

The consequences of getting caught are worse than a low pass or fail. If you get caught, you can expect to receive a grade of 0 for that exam or even the whole module. Where the cheating is regarded as more serious, your department may refer you to discipline committee for penalties ranging from the grade of 0 all the way to expulsion from the University. Cheating can put your whole degree at risk.

If you are worried about preparing for your exams, ask your department for help. Further support is available from 301 Skills Centre.

Good to know

Bookmark the University's exams webpage for quick access to key exam information, including timetables, rules, venues and results - it is SSID but without the queue!

Check the location of your exam venues... do you know where the Philadelphia campus is?

Allow extra time to get there - particularly if it is off campus.

You will not be allowed into the exam if you arrive more than 30 minutes after it has started. If you are delayed, let the Exams Office and your department know.

If things go wrong

When the exams don’t go completely to plan. Here are some of the most frequent concerns during the exam time, with advice about your options. For more help with any exam problems, the Student Advice Centre is open Monday - Friday 10.00 - 5.00pm.

If you are not able to complete an exam because of illness you should submit an extenuating circumstances form and make sure you ask your doctor to provide medical evidence.

If you are caught with unauthorised notes/material during an exam you are likely to face disciplinary action for ‘use of unfair means in an examination’. Your department will need to speak to you and decide what action needs to be taken. It is likely that you will be refused credit for that exam, even if you did not actually use the notes.

If you think an exam paper was unfair or contained mistakes, rather than simply difficult, you might want to do something about this. It is worth speaking to the module leader or Head of Department to see if your concerns can be resolved informally. If that doesn’t work, you have the option of academic appeal or official complaint. Which one will depend on the outcome you hoping for. If you need help deciding what action to take, the Student Advice Centre can explore your options.

You won’t be allowed into the exam if you arrive more than 30 minutes late. You should contact the Exams Office straight away. If the exam has finished you should also contact your department. We would recommend submitting an extenuating circumstances form explaining why you were late.

Don’t panic. It is really hard to know how you have done until your results have been published. But do ask your tutors for feedback then so you can learn from mistakes and build on your successes. Your results will include information about resitting any failed exams.

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