How to take your Exams

So you have spent all your time burning the midnight oil in the library? Fuelled on a diet of sugary snacks and drinks that are high in caffeine. All of this so that you can get a decent mark on your exam. Well a lot of people forget that the work you do before an exam is only half the story, the other half is how to actually cope with the exam! Here are a few tips if you are going to be sitting any exams any time soon:

  • READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!! I can not stress this point enough. I remember when I once ended up trying to answer 4 questions when I was only meant to answer 2, as a result my mark really did suffer. You do not want to waste all that hard work you did before the exam! Make sure you spend a quick 5 minutes before the exam browsing over the instructions, and act on them!
  • Relax. Its normal to feel nervous before an exam, but more often than not nerves can impede your judgement and make you act rashly. Just remember that an exam is only a few hours in your life and the worst that can happen is that you have to re-sit it or take another module. Take a minute or two before your exam and try to take deep breathes or do a little bit of exercise.
  • Budget your Time. Time Management is always important, and never more-so than in an exam. A quick tip is to look at how many marks you are expected to get in total, then divide the time you have in minutes by the number of marks. This way you can see how many marks per minute you should be getting.
  • Take care of the easy questions first. Instead of sitting there pondering to yourself how to answer a question that you do not know. Try answering some questions you do know and maybe it will jog your memory, plus you are getting marks while you do this!
  • Get rid of the wrong answers. If you are doing a multiple choice exam make sure you cross off the answers you know you are wrong before trying to find the correct one. This will make it much easier to find the one that is completely correct.
  • Underline keywords or subjects. If you are writing a long answer paper it might be worthwhile to try to underline or highlight the key points of the question. It is important to always have a relevant answer and so it is important to always remind yourself of what the key points of you answer should be. If you are in a multiple choice exam then try and circle the word/words that make a wrong answer wrong, professors normally just change these words in the answers.
  • Rattle your brain. If you are stuck and know you know the answer but cant quite remember it try to remember things about what you learnt, for example which chapter in the book it was or what subject it was related too. You will find this much easier to remember and I often find this helps me remember what I need to know. For mathematical problems in subjects like economics or physics try to remember how to derive a formula, and which formulas are related to the one you are trying to think of!
  • GUESS! In a multiple choice answer there is no point leaving any question blank. If you don’t know an answer just eliminate the ones you know are wrong and guess! (I would not advice this if you loose marks for answers you answer incorrectly)
  • Plan. If you have a large essay questions you should always highlight or underline the key topics in your question and make a plan. This makes it much faster to write it, plus a well structured essay is a lot more likely to get better marks. Organize your ideas under each keyword or subject, using one paragraph for each. Don’t remember to start of with an introduction and finish with a conclusion!

Exams are a stressful time for everyone, just work hard and take it easy on yourself if you do not do as well as you hoped. Try and ask your tutor or supervisor for help, and stay positive!

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