Study, Revision and Exam Tips

Here you will find useful information and guides on good study habits, revision tips and exam techniques, plus some basic advice on how to ensure the best experience on exam day itself. More content will be added as and when available. Remember to post any questions on the main discussion board or find a course specific forum in each of the subject study rooms.

Study Tips

A lot of people find study really difficult to master, especially those that are less familiar with examinations. While there are no hard and fast rules about studying, there are a few things that you can be aware of to help you make the most of your exam preparation. Remember that everyone is different and someone who studies well actively thinks about what is best practice for them.

·         Make sure you manage your time. You will need to make study a priority and commit time to ensure you have learnt everything you need to when working towards the exams.

 ·         Establish your learning priorities. This is a difficult task because the amount you could learn is seemingly endless but there are several pointers. Looking through your materials and working with your tutors is one of the best ways but don't dismiss reviewing the syllabus and checking through old exam papers. Don't discount other students and members as a resource. Talking to them can help you establish a plan of action for how you intend to tackle your exams.

 ·         Be familiar with past examiners' reports. These always hint at common pitfalls and mistakes that you can actively seek to avoid in your exam. Go to the Resources/Learning Resources for Students tabs on our website.

 ·         Practice makes perfect - try answering past exam questions and getting used to the discipline of writing an exam. These can also be found on our website.

 ·         Be mindful of your own learning patterns. Again, there is no set of rules for how to study. It really is 'best fit', but there are tips you can think about:

o   research indicates that study lasting more than 40 minutes is more often than not counter-productive. Plan to study for 30-40 minutes at a time before you have a break

o   whatever you do with your break time, get up and move away from your desk (a walk and some fresh air is a really good idea). You should look at having a short break before getting back to it

o   make sure your study area is comfortable and has lots of fresh air and good light

o   in the weeks coming up to your exam you will really want to make sure that you are well rested. Some studies indicate that sleep is the single biggest factor influencing examination performance.  It is generally accepted that having a routine sleeping pattern (going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time) is the best way to achieve quality sleep.


Revision tips

Make a revision plan

·         Allow plenty of time and pace yourself

·         Revise more than one subject at a time

·         Find a suitable place

·         Take frequent breaks (5mins every 30mins)

·         Stay healthy – exercise

·         Don’t spend too long making your revision notes beautiful and neat

·         Reward yourself

·         Make answer plans, lists, revision cards, spider diagrams.

·         Use past exam papers and examiner reports available on this site in each subject study room.

·         Focus on the weakest subject first.

·         Practise writing essays under exam conditions – write answers by hand in the time allowed.

·         Prepare examples - It is not enough to just read through your notes – you need to think of examples as you go along.  In the exam, you haven’t got the time to wonder what examples to use.


Examination technique

Understanding keywords

You should always think carefully about the key words within a question. Below is a table which may help you. Of course, the context of a question and your common sense need to be exercised here. This is merely a guide to help you think about what is required of you when looking at the question itself.

 Key Word

Skills you need to demonstrate


Identify the central qualities of something and determine its meaning


Using detail and examples to outline the key characteristics.


Make an issue or concept clear using examples (often this does not require you to draw something)


To provide detail that makes an issue or concept clear. To interpret information and determine its meaning.

Compare and contrast

Identify the similarities and differences between two objects/issues/concepts


To make a theory relevant and suitable within a chosen example. To put a concept into action.

Advantages and Disadvantages

To look at the beneficial and negative outcomes of something


To separate an abstract concept and critically determine its elements, features and possible outcomes.


To scrutinize and investigate an issue or concept carefully.


To recognise the main features of an issue, object or concept


To consider and examine via argument


Use a variety of factors to determine a possible future outcome


Observations, expansions, criticisms and thoughts, premised on knowledge about a particular issue or concept


To determine the effect, results or reasons for something


To reflect on an event or piece of information leading towards the proposal of a solution


To recognise the unique features and characteristics of an issue, concept or object and to establish how it is different from something else.


Answering the question

Often you hear the time old mantra 'answer the question', yet just as often candidates genuinely believe they have answered the question and don't fully understand where they have gone wrong. There are a few things that you can think about to help you avoid the most common examination trap.

The most frequent mistake candidates make is that despite having read the question, the response is not well tailored and precise. Instead answers often address the topic generally, rather than the question specifically. This is sometimes because the candidate is nervous, but often it is because they want to show off their knowledge. The marker however, doesn't want you to talk generally about an issue demonstrating that you understand every piece of information. They have asked you a question, and they want you to answer it. You need to therefore work towards understanding what a question is asking.

Using examples

The difference between demonstrating knowledge and showing understanding comes through using examples. This is exactly what your examination marker wants you to do. The coursebooks in this sense give you the basis of the theory you need. Showing that you can put this into practice is more involved. Simply regurgitating parts of the coursebooks will not draw any favours from the markers and will likely result in a failure.

You need to demonstrate not that you can rote learn information, but that you have a professional understanding of how the industry works. The best way to show that you understand is therefore to apply theory by using examples. You will need to undertake wider reading and investigations to do this effectively. Speak to your colleagues in other areas. Find out what the markets are up to. Read up to date publications and journals. While you can't anticipate what the examination questions are likely to be, if you know what the various markets are doing and have some figures and facts to back you up (a google search should not be underestimated here) you will be in a good position.

It's also wise to know about the major events, big accidents (both historical and recent) and any headline news stories that have happened within the industry you are focusing on. Once you have this knowledge you are well equipped to talk about the effect these events have had.

The message here is quite simple. Talk, read, gather as much information from as many places as you can. Know what is happening in the market, have some figures to support you and be mindful of the major factors that have shaped the specific industry you're being examined on.

Managing exam stress

The following websites provide good advice on how to conquer stress during exam time:






Exam Day

Here are some basic tips to help your day go smoothly:

·         Give yourself plenty of time to get to the examination centre

·         Go to the toilet before you take your seat

·         You will need to leave your bags and coats at the back of the room so remember to take to your desk extra pens, ruler, rubber etc.




Your management of time is very important. You are allowed three hours for each examination.

A suggested use of time might be:

To read the paper and select five questions that you feel most comfortable with                         5 minutes

To write an essay plan for each question                                                                                              5 x 4 minutes

To write approx 3 - 4 page essay                                                                                                             5 x 30 minutes

To read through your answers                                                                                                                 5 minutes

Total                                                                                                                                                              3 hours


Read the questions very carefully

•       The most common mistakes students make is not to read the question fully. They tend to see something that jumps out at them, which results in an essay not related to the actual question being asked.

•       It may seem obvious, but only answer 5 (five) questions.

•       Always remember to answer ALL PARTS of any question

Question Selection

This is important and can make the difference between a pass and fail. Read each question carefully and try to assess in your mind how much you really know – how much knowledge/ facts can you display in essay format.

A quick essay plan will help you see just how much information you have to share.

Start where you are strongest and build confidence

Remember, the examiner can only mark what you write down.

•       Do not start your essay without giving the structure of your answer some serious consideration.

•       A suggestion is to make an essay plan – jot down all the points you can think of.

•       Cross out your notes when you’ve completed each point. You can make your notes at the beginning of your essay or on the back page of the answer booklet


Essay planning

•       Ensure there is a clear introduction and conclusion.

•       Read the question again just to ensure that you have focused on what is required.

•       Ensure that you have included all the required cases, diagrams, graphs, examples and calculations depending on the question being answered.

•       You may also use diagrams or charts in your essay plan.

You may cross out your notes when you’ve completed each point. You can make your notes at the beginning of your essay or on the back page of the answer booklet. Remember to cross out neatly when finished


Essay length

•       The examiner is looking for around 3 pages, though this depends on the size of your writing.

•       It is not possible to have answered the question fully if you have only used one side of paper.

•       If you realise you are coming close to the end of your answer booklet, put your hand up and ask the invigilator for a second booklet so you have it ready before you run out of space.

Essay structure


•       A clear introduction is essential to setting out what you are intending to discuss.

•       The introduction should illustrate and identify the central points of the question.

Example of pass exam paper:

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of increasing ship sizes.

Over the past 20 years ships have increased in size dramatically. This continuous expansion in ship size is driven by the need to maximise economies of scale. As the size of the ships expand the unit cost of cargo carried is reduced. An 18,000 TEU container ship is designed to carry more containers per voyage reducing the cost per container. There are however both advantages and disadvantages of increasing ship sizes.

Advantages would include... etc

Main body

•       In the main body of the essay you are expected to provide a robust and comprehensive discussion on what the specific question requires.

•       Your are expected to argue your case, answer the question.

•       By all means use diagrams to further your arguments.

•       Well drawn trade routes and diagrams are also essential.

•       Include the required graphs, charts.

•       Use the relevant case law where necessary


•       Draw your conclusion, but do not bring in new principles, concepts or ideas into your final paragraph.

•       At this point you are expected to summarise, so if a question asks you to assess the validity of a statement, make sure you give your answer here.

•       The conclusion gives you the opportunity to bring everything together.

Reviewing revising polishing

•       When completing your essay it is very important to spend a bit of time to review and polish.

•       Students can gain easy marks by just reading over their essay and ensuring it reads well.

Please remember that the examiner wants you to show your ability and skill in using and assessing information as well as proving you understand the knowledge base of your subject.


Other useful links and resources

Please see the table below for links to useful sources of information that can assist you with keeping up to date with developments in the industry and being able to use relevant examples during your exam.



Relevant Subjects

Asia Cargo News

Wide application across subjects


Economics of Sea Transport and International Trade


Shipping Business, Ship Ops & Management


Wide application across subjects

Dry Cargo International

Dry Cargo Chartering, Economics of Sea Transport

Global Maritime Hub

Wide application across subjects

Hazardous Cargo Bulletin

Wide application across subjects

Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

Wide application across subjects

Lloyd's List, including Lloyd's List Containers

Wide application across subjects Liner Trades, Logistics & Multi-modal Transport

LNG Journal   (not LNG Industry)

Tanker Chartering

Marine Link

Wide application across subjects

Marine Log

Shipping Business, Ship Sale and Purchase

Material Handling & Logistics

Liner Trades, Logistics & Multi-modal Transport


Offshore Support Industry, Tanker Chartering

Offshore Source

Offshore Support Industry

Port Technology

Port Agency. Port and Terminal Management

Professional Mariner

Shipping Business, Ship Ops and Management

Seatrade Maritime News

Wide application across subjects

Splash 24/7, including Maritime CEO

Wide application across subjects

Tanker Operator

Tanker Chartering, Offshore Support Industry


Wide application across subjects

Transport Weekly

Liner Trades, Logistics and Multi-modal Transport


Wide application across subjects

Upstream Online

Tanker Chartering, Ship Ops and Management

World Cargo News

Ports, Liners, Logistics and Multi-modal

For a range of podcasts and other student-friendly resources, visit Shipping Podcasts.

Associations and Organisations