Tips for your exams at the International Study Centre

Jade, an international student, smiling in a cafe.

Hey guys!

I'm Jade and I'm an international student doing this blog in quarantine. I want to write down something about this amazing journey as a reference for upcoming students that are planning to study abroad.

I just finished my International Foundation Year in Business, Economics, Law and Social Sciences at the University of Surrey International Study Centre and I'm waiting for my unconditional offer to officially progress to the University.

Today I'm going to share my exam preparation and revision tips with you.

People who have experience studying abroad may know that those exams are different from the ones we did in Taiwan. I was quite confused in the beginning too! So, let's start with what kind of exams I had and how I handled it.

Exam types at the University of Surrey International Study Centre

Formative assessment

A formative assessment is for teachers and yourself to learn where you are at academically and find out what you can work on. It also gives an insight into how the real exams' questions will be given.

If you got a lower grade in the formative ones, don't worry about it - your grades won’t be affected! Just take it as a practice and work on the things you need to catch up on. You can go into your submission to see how the marks are given, and there should be some improvements that the teacher will mark for you - check them out! If you are still confused, just email the teacher and solve your question together.

Summative assessment (exam)

Summative assessment is an exam that’s used for mid-terms and finals. Before taking the exam please check how your grade for this exam will affect your overall grades. If you are not satisfied with your previous score, maybe next time you can work harder on it.


In the exam, the teacher will mark you by observing the discussion of your group. You will still be marked individually, though. The discussion will be a part of business and English speaking exams. Discussion exams usually count towards your overall grade.

My top tip is to prepare thoroughly. Since there may be a few topics, all of them should be gone through before the exams. Don't forget to take some notes when going through the topics, they should be very helpful during the exam, and the teacher will request to take a look at them.

I usually prepare right up to the night before the discussion exam so I still have a clear memory of what I have revised. Check out the arguments that are discussed on the internet, find the content that can be corroborated, and, when doing notes, use bullet points or mind maps that so you keep your ideas collected.

When it comes to the exam, try to be the leader. Lead the conversation so that the teacher will have the impression of you guiding the discussion. But be careful not to steal the show too much.

An important tip is trying to remember the names of  the people in your group, and what arguments they proposed. For example, "I think blank. Emily, what do you think?" Or you can add the additional idea after your classmates idea. For example, "According to William's statement, I..."; Or "Yeah! I totally agree with what Lynn just said, and..." This will show the teacher you not only share your ideas, but you are listening to others as well.

Jade, an international student, smiling at the camera.


The presentations usually count towards your overall grade. You should try to start making it early, so you have enough time to make any changes to it.

Due to COVID-19, presentations this year were submitted with recordings. I would suggest you prepare for the voice-over while you create the presentation so you don’t have to go back through all the content after finishing your PowerPoint. When you are making the recordings, make sure to speak clearly.

Before you record it, you should read your voice-over until you can do it smoothly. Since it is not a live presentation, the basis of the grading by the teacher all depends on your presentation and your recordings. However, the teachers are usually free to help with this kind of coursework. If you have any inquiries, don't hesitate to email the teacher.


I think my only tip for this one is just to start it early, and don't procrastinate until the deadline - I know this is hard! If you have any questions, just email the teacher directly, and ask for specific assistance.

Other exam tips

Other basic things are just don't forget to paraphrase and reference!

There are many people looking for answers online but it will be detected by the Turnitin system if you don't paraphrase properly. Please use the similarity checker to check your paper before your submission.

I'm sure with the above tips and information, you will receive a clearer view to the exams.

Good luck!

Find out more about starting your studies or check the latest COVID-19 information.