Stay Cool - Don't Panic!
The most important thing to remember is Stay Cool - DO NOT PANIC. If you panic now, all your hard work leading up to the exam will be wasted. If you panic you cannot think straight and as a result, you will not fulfil your potential.
Fill out your details
Before the exam begins it is important to fill out all your details on the front page carefully, so that you have the whole allocated time to answer questions and gain marks.
Don't skip the instructions
You may have completed past papers and think you know what the structure of the exam will be.
Congratulations for being prepared, but don't take it for granted that your paper is the same as in previous years as the specification may have changed, so read the instructions thoroughly.
Before the exam paper is presented, you should have a good indication of the structure, how many questions will be on the paper and how many you must answer. Therefore, you should have worked how long you have to read the paper before you begin answering and how long you have for each question.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
If there are any instructions you don't understand, put your hand up and an invigilator will be happy to help you.
Again, Remain Calm and Don't Panic
After you have read through the paper for the first time and found your favourite subject hasn't come up, do not panic. Just choose questions where you believe you can gain the highest number of marks.
Yes! My favourite topic has come up
It's always pleasing to find a topic that you enjoy and find easier than other topics. Answering these questions early in the exam can help to settle some tension and nerves and help you to gain confidence for topics you are less confident with.
However, don't dwell on the 'easier' topics as there are many valuable marks to be picked up on the 'harder' questions. Only ever write a sufficient amount to gain full marks for any questions. An examiner can only award full marks for a question even if you have written more material that is in fact relevant to the question - don't write more than neccessary.
- Plans should be kept brief - for essays simply jot down your main ideas or structure them in the form of a mind map
- Jot down any acronyms for future reference and cross them out as you use them
- Neatness is not usually an issue when writing a plan so get it down as swiftly as possible and get on with the actual answers
- When writing essays, be sure to use the generic structure of an essay, with an introduction, main body and a conclusion
Stay on Task
Especially relevant in science based subjects where answers are either correct or not, you must remember to answer the question and be precise with your answers i.e. using the minimum possible words.
Strive to Impress
If the content in your answers is good, you are unlikely to get a bad result, however, you shouldn't give the examiners any excuse for marking you down. The following guidelines may help examiners to give you the benefit of the doubt:
- Organise your answer paper correctly with question numbers alongside the relevant answers
- Write neatly and avoid using slang (unless it's necessary in the context of the question)
- Don't write more than required in order to prove how much you know. Use time wisely and be precise with your answers i.e. quality rather than quantity
- Clearly distinguish between rough work (planning) and your actual answer a single line should be placed through any work you do not want the examiner to consider (avoid scribbling)
- Clearly show all workings out in science and mathematics based subjects. Marks are often awarded for correct methodology even if the final answer is slightly incorrect. Write any relevant formulae as well, as this demonstrates subject knowledge i.e. from where you have derived the answer.
Read and Review
A vitally important part of any exam is reading over and reviewing the answers you have written. There will be instances when:
- You have time left at the end of an exam
- You could write up until the last second
In either instance, you should plan to give yourself time to read over what you have written. If you don't read what you have written you may miss simple mistakes or spelling errors that are easily corrected.
Spelling mistakes are particularly important to avoid in all language subjects (eg English, Welsh 1st and 2nd Language, French, German, Spanish...) and any exam papers with essay questions. Same can be said for correct use of gramamar and punctuation.