Surviving the exam room battle
John Bransby is a former principal and examiner and is currently a Maths and Science Educational consultant
So you’re ready. You’ve done your revision and practised thousands of exam questions. Now it’s time to face the exam paper. Here are some tips for surviving in the exam room.
- Try not to panic – after all, you are well prepared!
- Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and count to 20 slowly.
- If necessary, try to relax every muscle in your body for 2 minutes just before the exam starts.
Get ready for battle!
- Make sure you have all your tools ready – pen, pencil, ruler and calculator.
- Check that you have been given the correct exam paper.
- Write your name or exam number in the space provided.
- Read the examiner’s instructions very carefully to make sure you understand what you need to do.
Read the exam paper carefully
- Once the exam time has begun, quickly page through the whole exam paper before you start to answer any question – this will ensure that you know how far you are and how many questions are still to come.
- It is extremely important to read each question two or three times to make sure you fully understand what you need to do.
- Make sure you understand each question
- Try to understand each question and determine exactly what is required so that you interpret problems correctly.
- Look for and underline key words in each question, such as analyse, assess or compare, so that you know what you need to do.
Use your time wisely
- Remember to allocate time to read through the whole exam paper at the beginning and leave time at the end for checking your answers. Divide the rest of the time according to the amount of marks a question is worth.
- Make sure that you do not waste time on questions that count for very few marks.
- Try to keep to the time allocated to each question so that you finish in time. If you have run out of time for that question, finish off your sentence and then move on to the next question. Come back to any incomplete questions later, if you have time left.
- Keep going until the end
- Don’t stop and relax once you’ve finished answering the questions: check your answers as thoroughly as you can before the end of the exam!