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Exam Strategies 101

by | Nov 2, 2014 | Higher Education


No matter how well you’ve studied, everyone begins their exam with a blank piece of paper. Studying is like preparing for a journey and as soon as you start writing, you set foot on it. Here are some strategies for you to get the best mileage out of your studying while you write your exam:

First things first – listen to your exam instructions. Most institutions will not allow you to leave during the first thirty minutes or the last fifteen minutes. Listen carefully to the personal details that need to be provided and formatting required.

Read the instructions thoroughly. Nothing is more disappointing than losing marks because you failed to follow directions. Note if there are any compulsory questions.

Memory aids are perfectly acceptable. Jot down facts, formulas, equations or other relevant material that you need to remember straight away. Make sure that you do so in the margins of your issued exam paper and only do so after writing in the exam is permitted.

Answer the easiest and/ or shortest questions first. This will reduce your anxiety because you will immediately have a sense of success.

More is not always better. Look at the mark allocations of questions and answer accordingly. It’s a waste of time to write an essay for a paragraph. Superfluous writing does not impress your maker, it may even irritate them. Give what you need to give clearly and concisely and then move on.

Skip questions you don’t know the answer to and leave space after you have finished questions. You can return later and answer them or add additional details.

Content by Judy Seligman, Oxford University Press Southern Africa author of Academic Literacy for Education Students, 9780199045396, November 2011

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