The seconds just before you begin writing your exam can be very stressful. Your nerves may cause you to read incorrectly and make silly mistakes. Follow these tips to help you stay calm and improve the quality of your exam answers.

Before you start writing:

Read the exam INSTRUCTIONS carefully!

Look through the whole exam paper and identify:

  • Which questions have the highest mark allocation

  • Which questions you know well

  • Which questions you don’t know so well and will need time to think about

Doing this will help you determine which questions you should begin with and how much time you should spend on each question.

Tips for answering exam questions:

  • Read each question slowly and carefully

  • Don’t rush because you are worried about time

  • Answer the questions that you know well first

  • Then answer the questions with the highest mark allocations

  • Answer the questions that you are unsure of last, so you have time to think about it

  • Understand what each question is asking you, before you start writing

  • Brainstorm your answer before you write it down

  • Identify key concepts and terms in the question, by highlighting or underlining the keywords

  • Think about the context of the question. What is the situation or scenario?

  • Think about how the context of the question relates to the key concepts or terms you identified

  • Make quick bullet point notes on the side of the exam question, of what you want to include before you start writing your final answer

  • Form a well-thought through answer from your bullet points. Create full sentences, including your bullet point ideas, the keywords and context

  • Make sure you have one fact for every mark allocated. In other words, if the question counts 5 marks, make sure you include 5 points/facts in your answer

  • Answer all the questions, don’t leave them blank. Try to answer it because you may just get a mark or two. A couple of marks is better than nothing at all!

Stay calm and positive while you write. If you don’t know an answer to a question, move on to the next one. You can always return to it later. Focus on what you know first! You’ve worked hard. You can do this! GOOD LUCK!