The third attempt is something special. It’s your last chance; nothing must go wrong. This means: In addition to the learning material, you have to contend with maximum pressure to perform and a significantly increased fear of exams.

Admittedly, these are not the best conditions for relaxed exam preparation, but your situation is not as bad as it feels. With the right strategy and a smart approach, you can master your third attempt at the exam.

These tips will help you.

Female student studying at college library - New Hampshire ...

Tip 1: Be Goal-Oriented and Optimistic!

The third attempt is mentally devastating for many students. The situation is depressing and destroys large parts of the motivation. Therefore, when preparing for your exam, the first thing you should start with is your attitude and thoughts. Realize that you will only be successful if you approach your challenge positively. Focus on your goal (pass the test), make a commitment to achieve it, and never lose sight of it until the end.

Tip 2: Bring Yourself up to Date!

For many examinees, the third attempt means that they failed the corresponding exam twice some time ago. The emphasis is on “SOME TIME AGO”. The lecture was often two or three semesters ago; sometimes longer. The problem with this is: your learning materials may no longer be up-to-date. Your lecturer may have updated the documents or revised some lecture content – and thus changed the exam material. Because of this, you run the risk of preparing for the wrong content. And that must not happen to you. Therefore, bring yourself up to date: Get the current documents, get information from other students or directly at the chair and, if in doubt, attend the lecture again.

Tip 3: Create a Study Plan!

As soon as you know which material is relevant to the exam, you should not start learning directly, at first, create a  corresponding learning plan. Determine which content you should learn and when. Plan enough time for important topics, exercises, and repetitions. Try to define all learning units in advance and collect them in a chronological overview. Adjust your study plan over the course of the semester if you find that your plan isn’t working out. Instructions (with templates) can be found in the following reading tip:

Tip 4: Start Exam Preparation Early!

You cannot successfully pass the third attempt with just a few days of preparation. If you don’t take your situation seriously and only start preparing shortly before your exam date, you are carelessly jeopardizing your last chance. In the best-case scenario, you should get in the mood and prepare for your third, decisive exam date as soon as you become aware of your second failed attempt.

Tip 5: Learn Continuously!

The key to deep-rooted knowledge and a solid understanding of the material lies in continuous learning. Short, high-intensity study units immediately before your exam can occasionally lead to success – but I strongly advise against it for your third exam attempt. There’s too much at stake for that. Instead, make it a habit to study regularly for your exam. It is best to prepare yourself from day one. Just work a little bit – but every day. All in all, you will be able to get the best performance with it.

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Tip 6: Learn in Stages!

Shortly before their third attempt at the exam, many students study for days and nights. They deal with their study materials for hours, repeat old exam tasks and work to the point of total exhaustion. Unfortunately, this strategy brings few benefits. In the worst case, this type of learning can even backfire, because the described permanent stress rapidly decreases memory performance and the ability to concentrate. In the end, there is a high expenditure of time against a mediocre to poor yield. On the other hand, it makes much more sense if you learn in stages and take short breaks between your learning units.

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Tip 7: Concentrate only on your third exam attempt!

It often happens that the third attempt at an exam is surrounded by other exam dates. The exam planners at your university usually take little account of repeaters and do not organize the exam phase according to your individual needs. It is therefore up to you to ensure that you have enough time to study before your crucial exam and that you are not distracted by other commitments. Try to put your full focus on your third attempt. Cancel competing dates or postpone other exams in an emergency so you can focus completely.

Conclusion

Special situations require special measures. And a third attempt at the exam clearly falls into that category. Many students treat their last chance to take an exam like an ordinary standard exam – and fail. Therefore, if you ever find yourself in this situation, you will need to adjust your strategy. The tips above will help you.

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