Examination strategies

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Examination strategies

Before the exam:

Focus on revision, not relearning

  • Create an overview of themes and topics.
  • Aim for understanding, not memorising.
  • Revise tutorial problems.
  • Do sample exams (under exam conditions).
  • Discuss your answers with your lecturers and tutors (where possible).

Get organised

  • Prepare a pre-examination study timetable. Identify problem areas and work on these first.
  • Check the day/time/place for your exam.
  • Know what you are permitted to take into the examination room and prepare the day before.

During the exam:

Before you begin

  • Read the entire paper and check instructions.
  • Allocate time proportionally to each question.
  • Decide on the order of your answers and organise plans.
  • Write notes/brief outline answers in you exam (after formal reading time).

Answering questions

  • Make sure you answer ALL questions.
  • Keep to your planned time limits.
  • Work thoroughly but rapidly.
  • Answer the hardest questions first, particularly if they are worth the most marks.
  • Use other questions for clues.

Multiple-choice questions

  • Examine the sequence of questions for clues.
  • Read all the options before choosing the answer.
  • Make certain you are choosing the ‘best’ answer to the question.
  • Be careful of words like “always”, “never”, and “not”.
  • Remember that wrong options are often based on common misconceptions.
  • Make an educated guess for unknown answers unless you lose marks for wrong answers.

Essay/short answer questions

  • Keep time allocations proportional to marks.
  • Provide definitions where necessary.
  • Identify key concepts.
  • Give examples.
  • Write clearly and simply.

Problem solving questions

  • Note any values or limits provided.
  • Label all working stages clearly.
  • Check computational accuracy.
  • Show your working unless told not to.

Before the exam finishes

  • Re-attempt questions you found too difficult at first.
  • Use spare time to thoroughly check your answers.
  • If you are running out of time never omit a question completely. Give the examiner an outline of how you planned to answer a question/the remainder of the question.

After the exam:

  • Review your exam paper if possible.
  • Consider how you could improve your exam performance.