Before the exam:
1. Get rest.
If you stayed up all night to do last minute revision, you’ve already failed. It doesn’t work – you end up so tired in the exam you can’t work anything out. Get ample rest the day and night before your exam. Do light revision using mnemonics. And go to bed earlier than you usually would. You will feel amazing well ready for your exam.
2. Eat right.
Stuffing yourself full of sugar or some Red-Bull type drink just before will work fine for the first hour or so, but by the end of a three-hour exam you’ll have completely run out of energy.
Or even worse- crash from your sugar high. You need some food that will slowly release energy. Try eating pasta, fish or eggs before your exam. And drink loads of water the day before your exam to get your body ready for the tough occasion.
Writing the exam:
1. Take a bottle of water in with you.
Take a bottle of water in with you and sip it slowly. This helps to keep you calm. And it replaces all the water you lose from stressing and thinking. Be sure not to drink too quickly, you’ll end up needing the bathroom, and make sure you go to the bathroom before you write.
2. Plan your campaign.
This is very important. In the reading time they give you plan which questions you’re going to answer and which ones you’re going to do first. You don’t have to answer according to the order of the exam. Choose your campaign strategy according to, a) Which questions are the most doable and, b) which sections you know well.
3. Do the easy questions first.
There is absolutely no reason to do the questions in the order they are printed in the exam. Do the easiest ones first, especially if they are not time consuming. This gives you the freedom when your doing the harder ones to concentrate on them and not worry about the questions you haven’t done yet.
4. Always explain what your doing
When your answer is right, but the marker can’t tell how you got there, you won’t get full marks for that question, especially in mathematics based courses. If your answer is wrong however, but you managed to express key points on the way to that answer, you can still get marks for that question. Examiners in college won’t scour through your answers, looking for marks to give you. Explain yourself throughout every questions and you’ll get surprising marks.
5. Look at mark allocations
Are there 5 marks awarded for the question? It probably means they are expecting 5 full points. Are there 2 marks being awarded? It probably means they are looking for 2 full points. Mention them all, and you get the marks. Mark allocations are a guideline to how much you need to answer. Otherwise you’ll end up saying too much and waste time or too little and not get the full marks. People still do this, do not make this mistake
6. If you get stuck, you guessed it- move on!
Avoid the writer’s block (or the “I didn’t study for this” block) you haven’t got time for it. If you get stuck on a question, move on! Start doing another one. Staring at a question you don’t know how to answer is a waste of time, and you’d be amazed how often, when coming back to a question after half-an-hour, it suddenly becomes clear.
7. If you’re running out of time…
Suppose you’ve got time left to do one question, but two questions left to do. Which one do you choose? The way to maximise your marks is to do the first half of both of them. You gain marks faster at the start of a question than at the end.
If you don’t have time to write sentences, but you do know what to do, then just write bullet points. If you don’t have time to do the calculations, write and explain what calculations you would do. You can get marks for method.
8. Don’t panic.
In the worst-case exam scenario, an exam-taker goes on automatic, misreading questions, skipping key directions (e.g., “Choose only one”), and producing verbal babble as the time zooms by. It’s important to stay calm enough to focus on the work there is to do. Visualize yourself sitting down, reading the questions, planning your responses, and doing well. Another way to avoid panicking is to remind yourself how much time you really have. A two-hour exam equals four episodes of a comedy–a lot of time when you look at it that way.
9. Never leave an exam early.
The only possible excuse for this is when you are absolutely sure that you have got 100%, and that should never happen in varsity. There is always something you can do to improve your paper. Check, and check again. When you’ve finished, start back at the beginning, and try to do the questions in different ways, and check they agree. Add more explanations.
For brilliant tips on how to get an A for an exam, click here
If you’ve got time left at the end, try remembering the mnemonic: ACUTE.
Assumptions (have you explained them all, even when not explicity asked.)
Calculations (have you checked them all – doing things different ways if possible and time permits. Did you press those calculator buttons right? Do the answers to different parts of the question agree? Check, and check again.)
Units (have you written the units you’re using? Do the units for all formulas make sense and agree – this is a very powerful technique for checking that your derivations are right and you’re using the right formula.)
Truth (have you done all the parts of all the sections in the questions? If asked to make a list and explain why, don’t just make a list. This is probably the biggest cause of unnecessary lost marks – read the question and answer the question, the whole question, and nothing but the question. Just like the truth in a court of law.)
Explanations (have I explained what I’m doing at all stages – good explanations will get marks for method even if the answer is wrong; miss out the explanation and you’re throwing away easy method marks.)