When you take an exam, you are demonstrating your ability to understand course material, or perform certain tasks. The exam forms the basis of evaluation or judgement for your course of study. There are many environmental conditions, including your own attitude and physical condition, which influence how you perform during exams.
These suggestions may help:
- Come prepared; arrive early for exams. Bring all the materials you will need such as pencils and pens, a calculator, a dictionary, and a watch. This will help you focus on the task at hand.
- Stay relaxed and confident, remind yourself that you are well-prepared and are going to do well. Don’t let yourself become anxious; if you feel anxious before or during an exam, take several slow, deep breaths to relax. Don’t talk to other students before an exam; anxiety is contagious
- Preview the exam, spend a short period of your exam time reading through the paper carefully, marking key terms and deciding how to budget your time. Plan to do the easy questions first and the most difficult questions last. As you read the questions, jot down brief notes indicating ideas you can use later in your answers.
- Answer the exam questions in a strategic order, begin by answering the easy questions you know, then those with the highest point value. The last questions you answer should :
- be the most difficult,
- take the greatest amount of writing, or
- have the least point value
- When taking a multiple choice test, know when to guess. First eliminate answers you know are wrong. Always guess when there is no penalty for guessing or you can eliminate options. Don’t guess if you have no basis for your choice and if you are penalized for guessing. Since your first choice is usually correct, don’t change your answers unless you are sure of the correction.
- When taking essay exams, think before you write. Create a brief outline for your essay by jotting down a few words to indicate ideas you want to discuss. Then number the items in your list to indicate the order in which you will discuss them. Make sure you do this rough work on the answer paper, as it may generate marks for you, if you do not complete your written answer.
- When taking an essay exam, get right to the point. State your main point in the first sentence. Use your first paragraph to provide an overview of your essay. Use the rest of your essay to discuss these points in more detail. Back up your points with specific information, examples, or quotations from your readings and notes. Do not waste time restating the exam question.
- Reserve 10% of your exam time for review. Review your exam; resist the urge to leave as soon as you have completed all the questions. Make sure you have answered all the questions. Proofread your writing for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Check your calculations for careless mistakes (e.g. misplaced decimals). Match your actual answers for calculations against quick estimates.
- Analyse your exam results, each exam can further prepare you for the next. Decide which strategies worked best for you. Identify those that didn’t work well and replace them. Use your exams to review when studying for final exams.
- Remember to switch your mobile phone off in the exam.