Written by Anastasia Serfioti

The French Examination System is one of the most demanding ones. Succeeding and even passing the exams can be quite challenging and frustrating due to the extremely strict grading system that identifies excellence with a 16 out of 20 grade. Taking that into account, students, especially foreign ones, should not be disspointed if they get relatively lower marks. That’s just how the system works.

But, since all obstacles are made to be overcome, it is not impossible to achieve high marks. What you need, is a right study plan which includes a lot of work, commitment and motivation.

If you really want to pass a class, you will be able to do it. You don’t have to kill yourself in the process. It’s all about studying smart! And this is an example of an already tested and proved successful studying plan:


  • Start by writing down the amount of studying you have to do: how many classes you have, how much time will each one take (hours included), how many days you have for studing, etc.


  • Create a study schedule. Personally, I never mix multiple courses in one day, except if it is an emergency and the next day I have two exams. As an example, if you have 10 classes to pass, start studying 10 to 12 days before the exams start. Some courses may take more than a whole day to be completely revised, so include a two-day-studying bonus, to avoid stressing at the end.


In France, you don’t have a lot of time to study for exams. In fact, we have one week for revision before the exam session starts. So, you either need to start studying before revision week or to really dedicate the whole week only to studying. I usually choose the latter, because I tend to finish my work just right before the deadlines.


  • As for what to study first, I always start with the last subject I have to take an exam at. This means that by the night before the exam you only have to do some recap.


  • But the most important thing when it comes to preparing for an exam is having worked during the semester. Because when you go to class and pay attention, then you have half of the studying done.


  • Having good notes is also of crucial importance. If you missed one class, or you didn’t pay attention, then ask a colleague to give you his notes. You are after all a foreign student, and no one expects from you to master all courses as a native. So, do not be afraid to ask for some help from your fellow students and your professors.


Having said all this, studying styles ultimately depend on the person. So, pick the learning methods that are most fitted to your personality and lead to the best results for you.