What are uni exams actually like?

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necessarily benevolent
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I'll hopefully (probably) be a first year arts student next year, and I was wondering (a) what are uni exams like in general? (b) how do they differ from school examinations? (c) what is the typical length of one (for arts subjects)?
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Aack
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Like watching a porn film after your hands have been cut off.
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Ewan
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No different to exams at secondary school.

EDIT: There is more anonymity. You don't write your name on any of the papers, only your candidate number.
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TheOneWho
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a) You sit in a large room with little separate desks much like you did at school. The questions will most likely be essay based and so you get a booklet to write in with a sheet of questions on it.

b) They don't really in my experience, maybe a bit more relaxed.

c) Could be anything from an hour or so up to a few hours. Depends on how many questions you need to answer.
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Lell
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I do an arts subject and my exams are between 90 minutes and 3 hours depending on how much they are worth. They differ from school exams in that you are expected to show more of your own interpretation, there isn't a published mark scheme (e.g. for A-level they have mark schemes which state if you do X,Y and Z you will get an A)...so it's a bit more tricky than learning to pass an exam, you need to show understanding. Also for my subject you will get say, 7 questions, and have to answer two...you don't need to answer all questions on a paper...
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farhaz_j
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(Original post by Aack)
Like watching a porn film after your hands have been cut off.
i gotta borrow that..
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bodybuilder22
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(Original post by Aack)
Like watching a porn film after your hands have been cut off.
That's a very powerful simile.. lol
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geetar
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Like school exams, but longer.
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sweetdarling
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Most of mine are 3 hours, and one is 2. All essays.
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Grapevine
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For human geography (so I suppose this can be applied to most arts subjects) they are more essay based (apart from the multiple choice exams), the essays are more open ended, and there is more choice e.g. do 2 out of 6 questions.

Saying all that, I saw a first year geography exam where one of the questions was: "which of the following books would be on a physical geography reading list".

Mega easy lol :eek3:
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sophie_c
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A lot more people in the room, mine are about 2 hrs long atm which isn't too bad! The one big difference is the lack of time to actually study for them... at school I was used to the month long of study leave used purely for revision (ie no deadlines/ coursework/ school durin it) whereas here I have 1 week free from lectures, deadlines and coursework before my first exam. I finish lectures on the 8th of May (have 2 presentations to do on the 7th, and a lab report on the 6th - all also contributing to grade, and prep work for the lectures/labs/tutorials all week) and my first exam is on the 16th of May...
And in particular subjects, ie French the fact that you are not allowed a dictionary in the exam, and Biology that the qus are all essay qus, also differ from my school exams.
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necessarily benevolent
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(Original post by Aack)
Like watching a porn film after your hands have been cut off.
ROFL :rofl:
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trm90
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OP, you'll probably find St Andrews' archive of past exam papers very useful.
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M_E_X
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(Original post by necessarily benevolent)
I'll hopefully (probably) be a first year arts student next year, and I was wondering (a) what are uni exams like in general? (b) how do they differ from school examinations? (c) what is the typical length of one (for arts subjects)?
At StAs (and I'm sure many other unis), the main thing that struck me was...
Instead of sitting in some gym with rain dripping down on to the desk next to you, you take the exam in a comfy seat in a traditional hall, with paintings of past principals on the wall and a large fireplace at the front.
I had my exams in Lower Parliament Hall ( http://www.yourunion.net/content/index.php?page=5994 ) and Lower College Hall (in the quad, adjacent to St Salvators Chapel, which are the oldest and most beautiful buildings in StAs). People wear gowns (the StAs gown), and overall it just felt a lot more exciting than school exams.

However - maybe the allure will have worn off this time around! hehe.


As for actual content: it's all stuff you've learned in the lectures, it's difficult but do-able. The main difference is you can get a much lower actual score on the paper to still get a good score overall for the module. IE at A-level I was aiming for 90%++ in each paper, in these exams if I got 55% I'd be happy. That might just be a personal thing to me, but yeah...

Any questions? Sorry if I rambled :P
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sophie_c
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(Original post by M_E_X)
At StAs (and I'm sure many other unis), the main thing that struck me was...
Instead of sitting in some gym with rain dripping down on to the desk next to you, you take the exam in a comfy seat in a traditional hall, with paintings of past principals on the wall and a large fireplace at the front.
I had my exams in Lower Parliament Hall ( http://www.yourunion.net/content/index.php?page=5994 ) and Lower College Hall (in the quad, adjacent to St Salvators Chapel, which are the oldest and most beautiful buildings in StAs). People wear gowns (the StAs gown), and overall it just felt a lot more exciting than school exams.

However - maybe the allure will have worn off this time around! hehe.


As for actual content: it's all stuff you've learned in the lectures, it's difficult but do-able. The main difference is you can get a much lower actual score on the paper to still get a good score overall for the module. IE at A-level I was aiming for 90%++ in each paper, in these exams if I got 55% I'd be happy. That might just be a personal thing to me, but yeah...

Any questions? Sorry if I rambled :P
Hmm yeh it's so nice having the exams in Lower College Hall... most of my exams have been in the Sports Hall in the sports centre tho... and I've never seen anyone wearing a gown to an exam which is rather sad
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cpchem
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Apart from having to dress up like a fool, and having the examiners pacing up and down the aisles with swooping gowns, with self-satisfied grins on their faces?
You realise that you are in fact competing with every single person in the room: that someone in here is going to finish top, and someone else bottom. Where the mark scheme finishes, the best answer takes over - if you answer a question better than anyone else, you define the marks.
Three hours suddenly seems like a very short period of time.
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WelshBluebird
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Depends what your doing and where really.
The only real difference I've found at Bath anyway is that you can leave early, which I couldn't in school (obviously ignoring the difference in subject). Still have them in either a big hall or a normal teaching room. Still have to write name, candidate number etc. Still the only drink allowed in the exam is water and the label on the bottle has to be taken off). Hardly any difference. Even the questions (albiet on different topics and subjects than in school) are of a similar structure (start with small questions, then built up to a larger one).
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impsmith
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you generally get a much larger choice of questions to reflect the much broader learning that you've done over the past year
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mysticdreamer
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You can also leave before the exam ends. At my uni its after 45mins the exam has started and 15mins before the end. Its funny seeing a group of people leave after 45mins and you know they didnt like that paper one bit.
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M_E_X
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(Original post by cpchem)
Apart from having to dress up like a fool, and having the examiners pacing up and down the aisles with swooping gowns, with self-satisfied grins on their faces?
You realise that you are in fact competing with every single person in the room: that someone in here is going to finish top, and someone else bottom. Where the mark scheme finishes, the best answer takes over - if you answer a question better than anyone else, you define the marks.
Three hours suddenly seems like a very short period of time.
I'm not aware of competing with other students - infact I'm sure it doesn't happen at StAs (for Science at least).
Are you an arts student?
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