About this site

Hello and welcome!

This is the place that you’ll find online resources created and curated by the Academic Skills Centre. Whether you’re an undergraduate or postgraduate student, or a member of staff, you’ll find loads of useful information and links to assist you with all your academic skills and development needs.

To navigate, use the top menu buttons.

This site will be updated regularly so do check back often! If there’s something you can’t find that you’d like us to add, please contact us: asc@dundee.ac.uk

The Academic Skills Centre Team

Image: belinda-fewings-6wAGwpsXHE0-unsplash

Can AI Help me Revise?

This guest post was written by Emma Duke-Williams (CTIL)

Revising, as all students know, can be challenging. It’s difficult to re-read notes, while making sure you understand what they mean, as staff rarely ask you to just regurgitate facts, they want you to show that you understand the content.

So, could Artificial Intelligence tools help you?

Hopefully you’ve seen the Use of Generative AI for Students published in September. This guidance summarises many points about Generative AI (GAI), including a list of (some) potential uses and some points to be aware of.

I’ll start with a few things you should know:

  • Generative AI does not know facts; it simply generates content based on existing content. It can’t validate the accuracy of its information.
  • Some sites require you to sign up and supply an email or phone number, which you may not be comfortable doing.
  • There are concerns about various ethical practices of these tools.

If you’re doing coursework or any graded assessments the University’s position is that you must NOT use GenAI unless its use has been specifically authorised by your lecturer in the assessment brief. This includes remote online exams (i.e. when you’re not invigilated on campus).

However, today we’re looking at your revision. Alongside your highlighter pen and flip cards, could GAI be another tool in your revision kit?

Let’s take some of the ideas for potential use of GAI and think about them in context of your revision.

If you’d rather not share your phone number with external bodies, then we suggest going to Bing.com, signing into it with your University Account and using Microsoft CoPilot. You may, of course, already have an account on ChatGPT, Bard, Claude, etc., in which case you can use that instead.

Once you’ve logged in to your GAI of choice, here are a few potential ways it can help you with your revision.


GAI can summarise longer texts and documents to help you check your own understanding of the key messages and concepts presented.

There are a number of ways to do this, but I’d recommend following Nathan Beel’s advice. He reminds you to check what is generated, and make sure not to use it for your coursework. He also talks about using GAI to generate some multiple choice questions; perhaps you and a friend could both generate sets of questions from two different papers you should have read, and then swap.

There are other tools that will summarise pdfs, such as ResearchRabbit. You’ll have to create an account, and the free accounts are limited to 3 uploads a day.


GAI can act as a conversational or debating partner to develop your ideas and thinking. GAI is very good at answering questions you pose it. If you’re not sure about something, why not start a discussion with an AI?

Martin Compton has made a useful video demonstrating GAI discussions. You might also like a previous video of his looking at enhancing any lecture notes you might have made.


GAI can help you understand tricky concepts. Hopefully, at this stage of the semester, you have covered the basics, and you do understand them! However, if you are very unsure of some of the content, then a quick question about some of the basics could help you. Remember, GAI can make errors, so perhaps using what it’s generated to “spot the ‘deliberate’ mistakes” could act as a useful tutor for you.

What other ways have you found to use GAI in your revision? Do you think it was useful, or do you have other ways you have found more useful?

Finally, remember, revision is critical; GAI can help you, but it shouldn’t be the only way you revise. You don’t have to use it at all, and if you choose to, it’s most effective alongside a range of strategies.  

Good luck with your exams!

How do I Manage my Time in Exams?

When we talk about exams, we often explore strategies for effective revision, such as active learning or making a revision plan. It’s true that strong revision techniques are the best way to do well in exams, but there are also strategies that can improve our performance once we’re actually in the exam itself.

In this blog, we’ll explore seven top tips that will help you do your best in your upcoming exams.

  • Read the Instructions: Before diving into the questions, take a moment to carefully read all instructions provided by the examiners. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you need to do in each section. For instance, do you need to answer all questions in a section, or just choose one or two? Are your markers looking for lengthy answers, or just a full bullet points? Getting clear on these points before you start writing will save time later on.
  • Skim the Questions: Begin by quickly scanning through the entire exam paper. Identify questions that you find relatively easy and can answer quickly. Getting an overview of the whole exam helps you mentally prepare and boosts your confidence by reminding you how much you know!
  • Create a Time Budget: Break down the exam into manageable segments, considering how much time you have for each section. Prioritize your tasks based on the point value of each question. A common mistake is to spend too much time on a single question, meaning you run out of time to answer the others. For example, if a two-hour exam has four questions, all worth 25%, then you should spend approximately 30 minutes on each of them. It may help to write a little timeline for yourself, then keep an eye on a clock throughout the exam to make sure you stick to your schedule.
  • Start with What You Know: Once you’ve scanned the exam, start with the questions you are most familiar with or find easiest. This strategic approach work for two reasons: first, it helps build confidence as you work on a familiar topic; second, it makes sure you don’t spend all your time working on difficult problems while you run out of time to put down the information you already know.
  • Stay Calm: Exams can be a stressful experience, but staying focussed will help you do your best work. Try taking a few deep breaths to calm your nerves, or close your eyes and meditate for a minute. If you can’t think of what to write, pull out some spare paper or open a new document and try writing down whatever comes to mind, in any order. An ideas dump at the beginning of an exam can help you get important facts out of your head, then you can structure them into full answers later.
  • Flag and Return: Don’t let yourself get stuck on difficult questions. When you find something you can’t answer right away, flag it and move forward. Returning to challenging questions after completing the rest of the exam ensures that you make the most efficient use of your time. As you answer other questions, the your mind will be working on the original problem in the background. When you come back to it at the end, you may even find the answer has already come to you!
  • Review Your Work: If you have time, save a few minutes at the end to review your answers. Pay attention to areas where you might have made errors or could provide more detail. A thorough review not only helps catch mistakes but also allows you to refine or add material that can make your answers even better.

Doing well in exams is mostly about good revision, so make sure you check out our other resources on revision techniques! Once you’ve got those down, though, the strategies here will make sure you do your best in your exams and truly demonstrate everything you’ve learned.

How do I know what to study?

One of the big challenges in creating an effective revision plan is knowing how to make best use of the finite time you have available for studying.

Many people will try to cover everything, apportioning an equal amount of time to each topic covered on the course. However, this is rarely the best strategy, and is likely to lead to relatively shallow engagement with a lot of the material.

A more strategic approach is to identify areas of particular weakness and to devote the bulk of your time to studying these topics, whilst keeping the others ticking over.

But how do you identify these gaps? Here are a few potentially useful techniques.

Trust your instinct

Whilst you’ll also want to try some of the more systematic approaches below, the fact is you’ll probably already have a fairly good idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

A good way of thinking about it is to ask yourself which questions or topics you hope will come up in the exam, and which you really hope don’t appear. The honest answers to these two questions will tell you a lot about your learning to date and the areas you need to prioritise.

Knowledge dump

When you’re thinking about individual topics, a useful first step is to get down on paper (or screen) everything you can recall about that particular topic. Don’t think too much about it or worry about being neat and tidy – let it pour out onto the page.

The idea is that you can then go back to your notes and identify the areas that have stuck and those that need more work, and then focus your time on the latter.

Use Intended Learning Outcomes

Every module will have a set of Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) – you should be able to find them in the module handbook and/or on My Dundee.

All of your assignments, including exams, will be aligned to these ILOs. Judging the extent to which you are currently able to meet each of the ILOs can therefore give you a very good idea of the areas you need to focus on.

Module ILOs can, however, be quite broad, so look also at any ILOs or aims and objectives for individual topics or lectures. In some subjects, the handbook or My Dundee may contain weekly ILOs/aims. And most lecturers will have a list of aims at the start of their classes (on the PowerPoint for example).

Can you see how these could be useful checklists to help you prioritise your revision?

Use feedback

Tutor feedback on any previous assessments you’ve done on the module can be a useful source of information. Look back carefully over any such comments, especially if the exam will follow a similar format, and try to note where the tutor points out specific strengths and weaknesses in the work.

Think about feedback more widely as well – for example, comments tutors may have made in tutorials or practical workshops, points or questions that were emphasised or repeated in lectures, and even moments in class where you felt a little lost or less inclined to contribute. All of these things can help you identify areas that need more work.

Sample Questions

There are lots of different ways you can use sample questions or past papers as part of the revision process. One thing you can use them for is to help identify your strengths and weaknesses.

This might simply be a case of looking over a past paper and ranking each question in terms of your level of confidence. Obviously, you would then want to spend as much time as possible on the topics you felt less confident about.

Alternatively, you might try a short quiz, flashcards, or multiple-choice questions, to give you a quick sense of your strengths and weaknesses in a particular topic. You can source questions from past papers, online searches, or even Artificial Intelligence tools.

These are just a handful of ways you might go about prioritising your revision. You may have other ideas about how you’d do it as well – it’s about finding what works for you and, more perhaps importantly, what gives you the most confidence that your strategy is effective.

After that, it’s a case of drawing on the active revision techniques and review and recall processes that we’ve discussed elsewhere in Exam Essentials to ensure that your revision is as focused and effective as it can be.

Single Best Answer Exams

If you’re in a clinical subject, such as Medicine or Dentistry, you’ve probably heard of Single Best Answer exams. These exams tend to count for quite a high percentage of your grade, and they can seem trickier than typical Multiple Choice questions.

Before we start, what exactly are Single Best Answer questions? Simply put, they’re a type of Multiple Choice question where all the answers are technically correct, but only one of the answers is “best.” These questions typically test your clinical reasoning, and they ask questions such as “What is the best investigation?” or “What is the best treatment?”

These types of questions can be challenging at first, but in this resource we’ll highlight seven strategies to help you prepare for Single Best Answer exams.

1: Read the Question

It might sound obvious, but it’s worth a reminder: read the question! Often, SBA questions hinge on a single detail, such as the patient’s demographic or medical history. Make sure to read the question at least twice and watch out for details that could be important.

That said, sometimes the question will include information that’s not relevant, so don’t feel like you need to account for every single detail when deciding on an answer.

2: Use the ILOs

Every course will have Intended Learning Outcomes that list what you should know by the end of each year. All your assessments will match up to these ILOs, so they’re an excellent way to know what to revise.

When using the ILOs, pay special attention to any that won’t be assessed anywhere else. Practical ILOs will often be covered by things like OSCEs, but many areas of knowledge can only be assessed through an exam, so focus your revision on those.

3: Focus on the General

By nature, SBA questions tend to focus on the general, rather than the specific. After all, if you’re asked about the best treatment, and all the answers are potentially correct, what you’re looking for is the solution that is most likely to work in the majority of cases.

In your revision, then, focus on patterns, not outliers. You’re looking for the answer that is most likely, not any that could be possible.

4: Focus on Understanding

With SBA questions, it’s important to focus on understanding rather than memorisation. The questions will often involve multiple stages, such as combining a patient’s symptoms and medical history to work out a diagnosis, then suggesting the best possible treatment. In these cases, it’s essential you fully understand the condition, rather than just memorising a few facts.

This type of understanding is called “Clinical Reasoning,” and it’s an essential part of being a good clinician. Basically, these exam questions aren’t asking, “Do you know the answer?” they’re asking, “Can you work out the answer?”

5: Make Connections

Clinical reasoning is all about putting information together to identify the best way to proceed. This means your revision needs to focus on combining ideas, rather than just memorising facts.  A good clinician will understand how different information fits together.

One way to do this is to combine different ILOs, or different sections of your course. You might choose two ILOs and ask yourself how they intersect, or pick two lectures and explore how what you learned one week impacts what you learned the next. Revising this way should unearth some interesting connections, and it will also train your brain to bring different aspects together.

6: Use Scenarios

SBA questions often rely on scenarios, so it’s a good idea to use them in your revision. Try writing a scenario for yourself, such as, “A 5-year-old female presents with pain in her jaw…” This strategy can work particularly well in groups, as everyone can take turns presenting scenarios and you can discuss them together.

To make this strategy even more effective, try modifying your scenarios. Add or change details and see how that might change the answer. You can also try writing your own answers; see if you can come up with some good options that are correct but not “best”!

7: Understand Effective Revision

While SBA exams might sound quite different from other kinds, the reality is that most effective revision strategies are fairly universal. To do your best on exams, it’s important to understand principles like active revision, recall vs. recognition, and the importance of continuous revision.

If any of those terms are unfamiliar to you, we recommend you check out our Revision Bites resource. This resource contains many of the most effective learning strategies that will help you on any type of exam.


In this resource, we’ve covered seven different strategies for revision for SBA exams. This format is new to many students, but its focus on understanding rather than memorising will help you develop the skills you need to be a good clinician. If you use these strategies and focus on developing your clinical reasoning, you’ll soon become much more adept at picking out the “best” response.