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Testing Long Exams

  1. Apr 18, 2010 #1
    Just had a 4 hour exam and I was physically exhausted after taking the test. I'm in good shape, but concentrating for that long is tough. Does anyone know how to "train" for long tests? I was considering trying to study in 4 hour exam-like increments, any other tips?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2010 #2


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    That's not really "concentrating" though, is it?
  4. Apr 18, 2010 #3


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    try bringing a banana...
  5. Apr 18, 2010 #4
    Every 15 minutes or so, look at all the girlies in the class to refresh your mind.
  6. Apr 18, 2010 #5
    I found that, over time, I got to know my limits of concentration. For me, trying to go full-haul for 3/4 hours is impossible - well, I have done it, but afterwards realise I've made many silly mistakes as a result.

    In the past, the way I have handled long exams such as this is to take a short break every half hour or so. Think about something other than the subject of the exam. Make some doodles. I used to do something similar at the start of an exam, rather than launch in to the paper I always found I was pumped up with adrenaline, and needed to relax a bit before thinking properly - I would sit for the first few minutes working on my breathing and relaxing myself in the environment. In long problem solving exams, I liked to have a quick scan through the paper for the first 10-15 minutes or so, and make tiny notes on my thoughts for each question (whatever equation flagged up in my mind, or what-have-you) - and I found that this meant I could relax a bit more since I knew what was coming up, rather than having a panic every time I move on to a following question.

    For pre-exam preparation, the only thing I can think to recommend would be past papers. Set yourself up in an exam style environment and work through the paper - the practice is really an exercise in time management.
  7. Apr 18, 2010 #6


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    Don't cram the night before. Don't study the morning of the exam.

    While an undergraduate at the end of each year we had four three hour exams on consecutive days. I spent the rest of those days just playing ping pong and watching TV; it's a lot easier to work for three hours on something when you're really only working for three hours on it
  8. Apr 18, 2010 #7


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    Do you really need 4 hours for an exam? How many Qs in that exam you had? What was it?

    I only recall my QM exams [I hated it!], 5 questions in 2 hours. That looks fine, only some of the answers to these questions are 3/4 PAGES long! I always finish at the last minute. :grumpy:
  9. Apr 18, 2010 #8


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    When I was in engineering school, there were 5 "girlies" and 300 guys, and not all the "girlies" were cute. Please adopt a less sexist attitude.
  10. Apr 18, 2010 #9

    It's the lovely things about opinions though isn't it. The OP asked for help, I answered. Don't agree with it? To bad.
  11. Apr 18, 2010 #10


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    I don't have any tip. But if that makes you feel better, think about all the French people who want to enter University. They have to pass a series of exams (called the "BAC", abbreviation for baccalauréat.) In one week, they have more than 20 hours of exams. A day can be 7,5 hours of exams: 4 hours in the morning and 3,5 hours in the afternoon. It's hard and you can imagine your shape in the last day of the week.
    See there for a "reference": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baccalauréat.
  12. Apr 18, 2010 #11
    Simplest possible advice: Just don't give up no matter how tiring/painful it gets :biggrin:
  13. Apr 19, 2010 #12
    How is that even remotely sexist? Heterosexual males are attracted to women.
  14. Apr 19, 2010 #13
    Isn't like 25% of the engineering students females today? At least where I went.
    Bohoo, I have done many weeks with 25 hours worth of exams, often with 10 hours of exams in one day (our exams are usually 5 hours). It isn't that tiresome to take exams.
  15. Apr 19, 2010 #14


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    If the OP was stupid enough to look all around the exam room periodically instead of keeping his eyes on his exam, a proctor would soon escort him out with a nice fat 0 for a score.
  16. Apr 19, 2010 #15
    If I was doing well in an exam, I would take a five to ten minute break. You can sit there and not write anything. Dont be foolish and look around, because the invigilators will notice it. But you can stare into the middle distance and fold your arms, like someone who is zoned out. Nobody is going to bother you.

    Never sat a four hour exam in my life. The most was three hours.
  17. Apr 19, 2010 #16
    Especially since alphabetical order seats me in front of everyone else. A pi/2 turn would not turn out well for me.
  18. Apr 19, 2010 #17
    I often look around the exam room and none have even begun watching strangely at me for it. Do you got personal issues with that guy or what?
  19. Apr 19, 2010 #18
    It is never a good idea to needlessly look around during an exam. Even if it's totally innocent, it invites suspicion. I don't see any reason to take the risk.
  20. Apr 19, 2010 #19


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    I definitely look around during exams, be it at "girlies" or whatever else. You get so drawn into the piece of paper, it's nice to take a step back as it were and get your bearings on your surroundings. Plus I like watching people so it's hilarious to see the little ticks people have while answering exam questions (you know yours!).

    It's true, can sometimes be a spat of trouble, though. Although ever since I got to my current university, I hardly ever think about it. Not the kind of heavily proctored environment -- everyone is very honest and it's not like high school where proctors are out to catch cheaters (they're there to answer questions!).
  21. Apr 19, 2010 #20


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    Well, the most important tests in engineering school (mid-terms and finals) were held in very large halls with lots of oversight by instructors and grad students. Students were crowded fairly close to one another, and you'd definitely get some fallout if you were gawking around during exams. No calculators allowed (slide rules only), no cheat-sheets or notes, and no looking at anybody else's exams. In such a competitive environment even the appearance of attempting to cheat would get you noticed pretty quickly.
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