What to know going into your first exam


  • Write down your exam building location and the room number from the SOLUS Exam list. Since all of your exams might be in different buildings, it is helpful to have a reminder of where to go for each exam.
  • Pack everything you need the night before so you don’t have to stress about finding school supplies right before your exam. You will need your Queen’s student card for every exam. Depending on the exam, you might also need pencils, erasers, pens, a calculator, etc. Bring these in a clear plastic bag so you can keep track of your supplies without having the proctor check your pencil case.
  • Bring a water bottle so that you don’t get dehydrated during your exam.
  • Wear clothing that you’ll be comfortable wearing for two-three hours while sitting. Gyms and exam rooms can be cold, so pack a sweater just in case.


  • Arrive at your exam 15 minutes early to ensure that you are at the right building and room, and that you can find a seat with your scheduled exam. When you’re all settled in before the exam begins, you’ll feel more confident and relaxed.
  • If you’re having trouble finding where you’re supposed to sit, ask a proctor. They are very helpful!


  • After the proctor has given the group instructions, open your exam and read through the professor’s instructions. Then, skim through the exam and decide on how you’ll write your exam.
  • Starting with questions you understand best is often helpful. You’ll be able to answer these questions well and quickly, and starting your exam confidently will help ease stress.


  • For multiple choice questions, try reading just the question and thinking of your answer before reading the options. This way, you will already have an idea of your answer before seeing what options are given for the answer.
  • For true or false questions, be sure to read each statement a few times through, because wording counts! A statement needs to be completely true for it to be true. If there is anything incorrect in the statement (such as an incorrect year, scientist, writer, country, etc.), the statement is false.
  • For short answer questions, be sure to stay on topic and specifically answer the question you’re given. You won’t have time or space to elaborate much, so specifically answer the question you’re being asked.
  • For essay questions, map out your answer in bullet points or another short form. From there, you’ll be able to stay on track rather than veering off course with your essay. Remember to make your thesis clear, and use transition words to keep your essay flowing from start to finish. When you’re done writing, read through your essay from start to finish to ensure that your arguments are in a logical order.


  • Before you hand in your exam, be sure to double check that you have answered all questions.
  • Be sure that your name and student number appear wherever they are supposed to be written.
  • If your professor requests for page numbers, make sure you have numbered all pages in your exam booklet.


  • Keep track of the time. Map out approximately how long you have per section of the exam when you begin, and try to generally stick to your plan.
  • If you’re running low on time and there is a section completely blank in your exam, try and complete at least part of it so that you can get part marks.
  • Write clearly, and double space unless the professor asks for single space writing. That way, the professor or TA marking your exam will easily be able to read your answers. A cluttered exam is hard to read, and you want to make marking as straightforward as possible for your marker.
  • Cite authors of texts if applicable, use vocabulary the professor has taught you, and try and specifically focus on information you have been exposed to in the course so your marker can see that you have studied and attended classes.
  • Remind yourself that one exam is not going to make or break your university career. Overall, just try your best and show what you have learned from the course!

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