Exam preparation

To study at EPFL in the best conditions, there’s nothing more practical than information on how to prepare for campus, knowing what you need to do, and how to get by in any situation.


Organising for an exam allows you to set landmarks and to always know where you stand.

Why should you organise? If only to occasionally change the programme if you feel like it. Setting objectives will help you be calm and confident.

You must be aware of these dates issued in the academic calendar

  • assess the volume of work for each subject
  • assess your learning capacity for each subject
  • assess the time you have to work at home
  • take weightings/coefficients into account
  • balance out subjects requiring deeper knowledge from the more descriptive branches
  • map out your needs over time
  • foresee some leeway for the unexpected
  • draw up your exam plan and STICK TO IT.

A week is the most practical planning unit

  • take stock of progress each Monday
  • amend your work plan if needed.

Are some times more conducive to studying?

  • No absolute rule
  • Follow your natural pace

Aside from individual preferences, a biological rule has it that we may feel tired after lunch (the Mediterranean siesta).

  • avoid working non-stop
  • foresee pauses to recuperate

The duration of a work session is based on the nature of the task at hand. Make sure to clearly distinguish between work and rest periods.

  • Alternation avoids monotony and the sensation of repetitiveness
  • Start with the most difficult subject to get rid of it sooner rather than later
  • Alternate subjects, but also tasks, e.g. reading a chapter, memorising essential points, repeating exercises, etc.

Getting down to work is the most difficult. Work to be done is more tyring than work behind you. Some tips:

  • set how much time you are prepared to spend
  • time yourself: a limited period of time is better used
  • have your tools at hand to avoid getting confused
  • foresee external stimuli for motivation.
  • Use the spare time between lectures or on public transport to review your notes or a course, etc.

These small periods amount to several hours a week.

has the following benefits:

  • mutual enrichment
  • encouraging each other when demotivated
  • stimulating each other
  • checking one’s own understanding
  • sharing out tasks
  • preparing for oral exams
  • comparing work methods
  • opening doors to working life.

Although teamwork complements individual study, you will have to do both.

  • There is no numerus clausus
  • 50% success in 1st preparatory year
  • 20% of failures are attributed to lack of work
  • 20% of failures are attributed to lack of basic knowledge


In case of difficulties, get in touch with the individual support provided by EPFL.

Service des Affaires Estudiantines
Bâtiment BP

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