|When I was in grades five and six,
Friday was test day. We had the equivalent of an end-of-year exam every
Friday in every subject. It not only helped us to excel in our final exams
but it also got us used to sitting exams. The tests became almost routine
ó Friday was just another day. I think our teacher did us a huge favour.
Ours was the only class in the school that had the Friday tests, and I
am very grateful I was in Mr Adamsonís class.
Many students have never learned how to sit for examinations, and many schools no longer conduct exams, so the students never learn how to get their best result. These students may leave the exam room wondering why they gave the answers they did, and think of a lot of things they should have written down, if only they had thought of them during the exam.
Here are some suggestions for doing your best in an examination.
Before the exam
Being well organised before the exam can make all the difference on exam day.
- Try to have most of your study completed two days before the exam. Spend the day before the exam quietly and revise your notes. Try to avoid panic if you can.
- Have an early night before the examination day. Pack your bag the night before so you are not rushed or panicking in the morning.
- Rise early in the morning and review what you have studied. Make sure you have everything that you will need, and take spare pens, pencils, calculators and anything that could cause problems or a loss of time if they suddenly ran out of ink or stopped functioning.
- Arrive at school in plenty of time ó I like to arrive 30 minutes before I have to go into the examination room. Keep conversation with others to a minimum so you arenít distracted, and can prepare your mind and get ready for the exam so you know you are at your mental best.
- While you are waiting to go into the exam room or waiting for the exam to start, you can review your notes one last time using the reminders and seeing the connections, so it is only a matter of minutes between making the links and using them in the exam ó they will be fresh in your mind. This will also give you confidence.
Use your reminders in the classroom to memorise what you hear as you hear it. Write down your notes for each reminder at the end of the lesson. Use your reminder notes for revision.
Doing the exam
Read the paper through first. Often students are told to do this but they arenít told why. Itís a good idea for the following reasons.
- It helps you calm down and puts you in a good frame of mind.
- Often, later questions will suggest answers to earlier questions.
- If you have already read the paper through, while you are answering an early question, the answer to a later question may come to mind. (Make an immediate note for yourself on your paper.)
- Your subconscious mind will often work on the other questions while you are answering another question.
- It also helps you to choose the order you will follow to answer the questions.
- It helps you allocate the time you have to the questions.
Answer the easy questions first. That way you get the marks for what you know early on in the examination. Often, students will work on a difficult question, and spend so much time on the answer that they have no time to answer the easy question that might make the difference between a pass and a fail. Again, the answer to a difficult question can also come to mind while you are answering an easy question, and you are not just sitting there, straining your brain to come up with the answer and losing time.
Make sure you understand the questions. It can be very easy to give an answer you are pleased with that doesnít answer the question you are being sked. If you are in any doubt about what the question means, or what answer the teacher wants because the question seems ambiguous, ask the teacher, if thatís possible, or write how you understand the question on the paper. Make a note that if the question has a different meaning, here is your answer in note form.
Leave a question half finished if you get bogged down. Make a note on your test paper of anything you intend to write, and then come back to it later if you have time. If you donít answer the question later, you may still get marks for your outline notes.
Time yourself. Give yourself a certain amount of time for each question or section of the paper. Often, the people who set the paper will have written estimated times for answers on the paper. Work to these estimates as much as possible so you will have as much time as possible for the paper.
Donít waste time padding answers. Teachers usually have strict guidelines for how they allocate marks and they recognise padding when they see it.
If you have time, read the paper through again when you have finished. Make sure you have answered the question, not what you thought the question said, and make sure you have answered all the questions you need to. Try to finish any questions that you didnít finish before.
Contributed by Bill Handley
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