Exams are coming !

Hello everyone !

Today I’d like to focus with you on a not-so-nice topic we have to get through : Exams !

For most of you, you’ll have your final exam next week or the week after. For some of you, it will be the first one you take in another country !

If you are worried and full of questions about it, this is a couple of tips and advice about examinations in Sweden.

Please note that I am a student in Biology Master programme and that I am used to have table exams (and not take home exams). Those advice might not represent a reality for all fields and subjects.


How are exams in Sweden ? Should I register somewhere for the exam ? How does the grading system work ?

examOn my field, you usually have table exams. So you usually go to the examination room (written on your schedule or the teacher will gave you the information), where examiner give the exams’ question to all the students. You have to give your answer on a special sheet of paper they will give you. They also furnish draft paper.

As an Erasmus student, you usually do not have to register to the exam, just to show up there. As a free mover (student here for the whole master) you often -but not always – have to sign-up to the exam on the Ladok platform. If you are not sure, just check on Ladok if any “Examination sign-up” is proposed.

The grading system in Sweden have only  3 grades: U for fail, G for pass and VG for pass with distinction. Depending the courses you might need 50% or 60% to obtain a G and between 75 and 85% for the VG. If you are an Erasmus, you can ask to have your grades appearing as a percentage in your final transcript for your home university.


My schedule says 5 hours exam ! That’s true ? Should I panic ?

First of all, when it comes to exams, and in most of the situation actually, panicking is never the best solution =). Secondly, this time more corresponding to how long the room will be open for the students. Not really to how long it takes to complete the exam.

In my home country, we usually have exams of 1 or 2 hours and we are just rushing, going to the easiest questions because it is hard to complete everything within the given time. In Sweden things are different, and the time you have to do your exam is rarely corresponding to the time you really need to complete it. It is more a way for you to take your time to think, develop your answers, re-read yourself. And complete your exam without too much pressure and without having to rush.

Nevertheless, it can happen that some exams are truly complicated and long, and that 5 hours are necessary. But it is pretty rare. From the 6 exams and one re-exam I took in Sweden, I never used the complete 5 hours.


I am only used to short exam (1h) ! How can I stay focus for 3 hours or more ?

Well, there is a good thing bout that : in Sweden you are allowed to bring food and drink (soft drink obviously :p) to the examination’s rooms. So don’t hesitate !

Food !!!

First of all, bring water ! Sweet drinks might seem cool to give you quick-burning sugar delivery but will not hydrate your brain enough to use it at maximum capacity. You can drink tea too =).

Secondly, bring biscuits ! They are probably the best option when it comes to exams. Easy to carry, easy to eat without putting fat and sauce all over your exam sheet. They also are made of cereals that will bring your the slow-burning sugar necessary to feed your brain. You can also bring cereals barres or fruits, but be careful to not spread the juice on your notes :p.

Remember that you have time so don’t hesitate to do small breaks to eat, breath and relax to be able to focus better after.

Just one little detail : some faculty does not allow food that may contain peanuts for allergy reasons. So double check the labels =).


Beside food, what am I allowed to bring ?

Usually you are allowed to bring a bilingual dictionary (own language-English) as English is rarely your mother tongue. In scientific field, calculator non programmable might be allowed too. Don’t hesitate to ask your teacher to not forget anything. Because if you forget something you need, you will not be able to share one with another student. (Yes, I forgot my calculator at my last exam :p).

For the exam, you will just be allowed to have on your desk pen, pencil, ruler… but not your bag or pencil case ! So be sure all your “items” are working.

Phone are obviously turned off and in your coat on the coat hanger. Room usually have a clock, but if you prefer to be sure, you can just bring a watch… you know this thing we had to be able to know what time it was a long time ago. In the mobile phone-less era :p.

And most important ! Don’t forget your ID, passport and/or student card, because you cannot give back your exam to the examiner at the end without it !


5 hours without going to the toilets ??? That’s crazy !

Don’t worry for that ! You are obviously allowed to go to the toilets. Just go to the examiner’s desk and write down on a special sheet of paper at what time you get out. When you are back, even if you just want to go back to your exam, don’t forget to write the time again.

And of course, it’s one student at a time.


exam picture
My exam from the first semester

How to know how my exam will really look like ?

Normally you can find on the platform GUL the exams from the previous years. If you cannot find them, do not hesitate to ask your teacher to give you one. It is really common to have access to those documents.


I think I failed my exam what should I do?

Once again, no need to panic. Exams can be retaken almost without limit. Re-exam can occur during your next course or during the next examination period. You will of course be informed of the date.

If you are a free mover you might have to register for the re-exam in Ladok.


I am an Erasmus and going back home just after the exam. What to do if I fail it ?

Well, as far as I know it is actually possible to retake the exam in your home country. Your teacher can send it to your home university and you can take it there. Of course this option might not be possible all the time, so the best is to speak with the teacher.

International students studying deeply and seriously !


I just got my grade and I don’t understand why I failed. What can I do ?

Well, you can simply ask your teachers. They are usually really open, ready to help and here for the students. You can simply ask them to see your copy and even to meet them to talk about it =).


A last advice ?

As I suggested all along, if you have any questions about the exam, just ask your teacher =). They are here for us.

To avoid stress, panic and all their side effects on concentration, prepare everything you need the day before and of course be on time ! Running late is the best way to start the exam with unwanted stress.

And do not worry, everything is gonna be fine =).

I wish you all a mountain of luck for your exam.

Or as we say here “Lycka till !!!”


One thought on “Exams are coming !

  1. Thanks for the clarifying post, Emy! Even though I have a degree and a master, I’m also considering going back to the study life, now that I am in Gothenburg. It’s good to know this little things. 🙂

    And good luck for the exams!

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