This is what it all comes down to; you’re sitting in the exam hall, waiting to get your hands on that anticipated piece of paper. You’ve jammed a ton of information into your brain and your fingernails are non-existent – it’s time to get down to business!
Yes, the exam environment may be different across disciplines. Computing students will sit some tests in front of a computer with their fingers poised to code. A practical element will contribute to science student’s final grade. It doesn’t matter if you’re studying English, Economics, Psychology or History, every exam can be approached in much the same way with these exam writing tips.
We’re here to give you some help answering and writing exam questions that will show your knowledge to the person who reads your paper.
Pay attention! These quick tips should be common sense but many students who are under exam stress fail to see their mistakes. We’re going to help you avoid a major exam disaster by pointing you in the right direction.
Here’s our top exam writing tips to help you understand how to answer exam questions:
1. Preview the questions.
Preview the whole test before beginning to answer any questions. Make sure your copy has no missing or duplicate pages. Read the directions carefully.
2. Start with questions you can readily answer…
To build your confidence and to save time for the harder ones. When you identify a correct response carefully mark this on the question paper. If you are unable to make a choice and need to spend more time with the question, or you answered the question but are not at all sure that you made the correct choice, put a big question mark beside that question, and move on to the next. Avoid getting bogged down on one question part of the way through the exam. It is much better to move on and finish all of those questions that you can answer and then to come back later to process the problematic questions. Sometimes the answer will occur to you simply because you are more relaxed after having answered other questions.
3. Plan your time and pace yourself.
Allocate your time. For example, for a 90-minute test with 50 questions plan to spend about 1 to 2 minutes per question (as all test questions in BIO150Y are equally weighted). If you cannot answer a question within this time, skip it and come back to it later. Set progress points at the beginning of the test and use them to monitor your progress, such as, know what question you should be answering at the 30-minute mark.
4. Allocate time to review your answers…
And to transfer your answers to the computer sheet. It is best to transfer all responses to the answer sheet at the same time once you have answered all questions on your question paper (thus reducing the probability of making a mistake). Note however that you will not be given additional time at the end of the test to transfer your answers.
5. Read each question carefully
Multiple-choice tests also examine your ability to read carefully and thoughtfully, as much as they test your ability to recall and reason.
- Identify keywords Circle or underline key words, such as “all,” “always,” “never,” “none,” “not,” “few,” “many,” some,” and “sometimes.”
- Identify subject area
Identifying what lecture, reading, or laboratory exercise the question is from might help you narrow the choice of possible responses. (On many tests the questions are scrambled and do not follow the order that topics were presented in lectures or labs.)
- Identify what is being asked
Answer each question as the professor intended, that is, within the context of the course material that was taught.
- The “cover-up” strategy
Some students find it helpful to read the question and try to recall the answer from memory before looking at each of the five responses.
- The “true/false” strategy
Identify if the question is looking for a true or false statement. Then label each of the five responses as “true” or “false” and eliminate those that do not correctly complete the question.
6. Read each of the five responses…
And don’t just stop when you come upon the one that seems likely.
- Don’t select a response just because you remember learning the information in the course; it may be a “true” statement in its own right, but not the correct answer to the question.
- Don’t dismiss a response because it seems too obvious and simple an answer; if you are well prepared for the test, some of the questions may appear very straight forward.
- Don’t be persuaded by fancy terms in the question; don’t say to yourself, “That sounds impressive, so it must be the right answer.”
- As you read through the possible responses, mark off the ones you know are wrong. This will save time if you have to come back to the question later.
7. Should I change an answer?
Change answers only if you have a good reason for doing so. (Changing your answer from response “b” because you selected “b” to the previous two questions is not a good reason.)
The origin of the myth that students most often change correct answers to wrong answers is probably that it is the wrong answers that students remember most when reviewing the test (for you are less likely to remember the answers you changed from “wrong” to “right”).
8. If two responses appear to be equally correct…
Eliminate the response that appears to be least related to the question being asked. Remember, you are looking for the best answer, not only a correct one. Some responses may be correct but are not directly related to the question.
9. If you are not certain of an answer, guess…
As there is no penalty for wrong answers. Eliminate the responses you know are incorrect. Narrow down your selection to two responses and then compare them and identify how they differ. Finally, make an informed guess.
10. Review Your Answers Thoroughly
Smart students can still make the mistake of handing their answer book in without checking through what they have written. Proofread your answers as much as you can to correct any spelling mistakes and add any extra comments you think are worth mentioning.
You will be surprised what you can spot in those last few minutes. This is your last chance to throw in that quotation, list other relevant points or even draw a quick diagram. Now is not the time to drop your game, show the examiner what you’re made of!
Remember, the exams are not designed to trick you. Don’t panic on the day of your exam or this brain freeze could mean that you get a lower grade that you truly deserve. Convince yourself that you know how to answer exam questions and you’re almost there.
Are there any exam tips that helped you? Leave a comment below!
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