In the exam – making the most of what you got

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So you’re in the exam and waiting for the invigilator to say “you may turn over your exam papers and begin”. Nerves will be building and thoughts of all the study you have or have not done will be creeping into your mind. Here are some steps to make sure you get the most out of what you’ve done before the exam.

Also for me, taking tests will be more challenging as I’ve just started my humble online “business” by having adds on my other blog (I’ll tell you in a later post more about it), so I really have to set my mind on exam prep. Check out this video that covers some mistakes that should really be avoided. I know, it’s only January and most exams are still a few months away, but get well prepared for your exams and you may learn a lot from this video:

1. Read the entire exam paper twice

An obvious point, but the temptation will be strong to make a start on the first question you recognize. It’s important to take time at the start of the exam to read all the questions. This gives you a chance to calm down and settle into the exam. Also, it means you will actively see all the questions, and re-reading the questions will give you the opportunity to see if questions are harder or easier than you first thought.

2. Highlight key words in the questions you’re going to do

Once you’ve decided which questions you’re going to tackle, highlight or circle key words in the questions such as “discuss”, “compare”, “contrast”, or “describe”. These words are directions on how to answer the question and if you set off on your answer without these, there will be a considerable chance you will miss the point of the question and lose out on marks. See also if going for an extra online course might benefit you. There are great online resources that may help you understand many subject fields fast!

3. Answer the easiest question first

By answering what you consider the easiest question first will give you confidence. Maybe you had a teacher that was not that easy to understand as he was recruited overseas (we seem to have far too few ones over here), so those questions that make you feel confident as you know the answers, take those first. Additionally, as you will be most comfortable with this question, you should be able to finish it a little quicker than others so you’ll have extra time for the remaining questions.

4. Don’t get stuck!

There is 100% on offer in any exam so avoid getting caught up on a single point or calculation – this will eat up your time and make getting marks on other sections more difficult and put you under pressure. You can always come back to this at the end of the exam, and taking a break from it may help. If you’re comfortable with taking tests, it may get a lot easier to be successful at a community college as well. Want to know how much community college costs? Check out this post. 

5. More questions than time left?

If you’re not stuck to the amount of time you planned for each question, you may find you have not enough time to finish all the questions. In this scenario, don’t panic. If you have two questions left, for example, split your time evenly between both. Then do as much as you can on each question in the allocated time, and although bullet points should be avoided, if this is the most efficient way of getting the information relevant to question down onto your paper, go for it. This means you’ll get some marks for both questions.

6. Stay until the end

You should stay right until the very end of the exam – you cannot earn any more marks in the corridor outside the exam hall. If you have time left at the end, re-read all your answers, you will find ways to improve what you have written, or opportunities to add extra details and descriptions. See also this post: “Middle School and the AH-HA Moment.”

If you leave early and you remember something outside the exam hall there is nothing you can do – there won’t be many worse frustrations than this while you’re studying!