Prior exam papers
Make sure you consult past exam papers. They are almost always give a good indication of what your exam this year will be like. For Otago University students, past exam papers can be found here on the University Library website.
When to use them?
It may be of more use if you use the exam papers AFTER having studied. This way, instead of panicking about the upcoming exam because you do not know the answer you can focus on learning everything before beginning and then finishing off with the areas that you identify as being weak when you try the past year exams.
Having said that, it can also be very helpful to take a quick look through previous exams at the beginning of your course, so that you get an idea of what you will be expected to know at the end of it. The exams in some subjects (such as Chemistry and Physics) are very much more ‘skills’ based than ‘knowledge’ based, so it is important to identify this early on and weight your study accordingly.
Some things change, some things stay the same
When you go through past exam papers keep in mind that not all of the questions from past tests are still relevant! If, towards the end of the course, or at the end of the relevant unit, you still don’t have a clue as to the answer and neither do any of your friends, don’t panic, the most likely explanation is that it simply wasn’t taught this year. You will never be tested on content that you have not covered during the course, but if in doubt, check with your lecturers.