George Turnbull (Exam Doctor) gives expert video advice on: How do I avoid panicking before an exam?; Whats the first thing I should do when I go into an exam?; Should I start with an easy question first? and more...
Whats the first thing I should do when I go into an exam?
Well, before you get to the exam room, you should have the right approach from the very start. Assuming it's in the morning, you should try and walk to school, if that's possible. You should avoid friends, because they can start worrying you. They'll ask you how you do particular questions and so forth, and they'll confuse you perhaps. They'll say "No, you don't do it this way, you do it that way." So, it's your examination and make sure you're isolated as far as you can be. When you go into the examination room, take six deep breaths and have a glucose sweet, if the school allows you to do that, to help energy go to your brain. Sit down and take another six deep breaths if that's necessary, and when the examination paper comes round, make sure you read it properly. You'll only get marks if you answer the questions, and you've got to usually choose the questions you want to do, so make sure you take time to do that. Make sure that you choose the ones that you think are going to be the best for you. Start, probably, with the easier ones, those you think that you are able to do, and build up to the ones which might be a little bit more difficult for you. Certainly, getting into that examination room is crucial; it's crucial that you get in there with the right frame of mind, remembering that it's your examination and what goes on around and about you has got nothing to do with you, so just ignore it and get on with your paper.
Am I allowed to take anything into the exam to help me?
You're not allowed anything into the examination unless it's prescribed. A ruler, a set square and a calculator - you can take those things in. There are certain types of calculators that won't be allowed in an examination. Certainly, if anything, you shouldn't have a bag and you should most certainly not have a mobile phone, because you could be disqualified from the examination and perhaps a number of examinations. There are a number of cases where mothers have phoned youngsters and the phone has gone off just at the end of the examination. The mother has been phoning to see how they got on in the examination and it means they're disqualified from the examination. That's a serious point; there are more and more students who, not thinking enough about this, take a mobile into an examination and it's something that's not allowed.
Whats the first thing I should do when the exam starts?
Well just before the exam starts you're sitting in the room, and the first sign that the exam is about to start is when they pass out the papers, and the first thing you've got to do is you've got to read though the papers. There is time allowed by the examiners for you to do that. That'll usually be ten minutes, and that's if it's done properly. There are rushers and planners in the examinations. The rushers start right away, and research has shown that they do the wrong questions, and they don't score as well on the examinations as those that plan with a strategy. So, you should look though the questions, and jot down on the examination paper formulas and other things that come to mind as you look at the questions. This is so that you'll have a rough idea when you go back to do that question just exactly what you need to do. Choose your questions; choose the ones that you're going to feel happier with, and that will build up your confidence when you feel you've done something, and you feel that you've done it correctly. That will build your confidence to go on and do the rest of the exam. Also, make sure you keep the time, because if you do 100% of the paper you've got a chance of 100% of marks. If you do only 20% of the paper, you can only have a maximum of twenty percent of the marks, so make sure you do all the questions.
Should I start with an easy question first?
You should start on a question that you feel comfortable with. It may be that everybody doesn't think is an easy question, but one that you feel comfortable with and one that you can do. Perhaps even a short answer question in which you can build up marks very quickly. The key is that it will give you confidence. Once you feel that you've done a sufficient amount of the paper to start with, you'll have confidence to go on and tackle what might be more difficult questions.
What should I do if I cant answer a question?
Well, if you can't answer the question, you can't answer it. You need to go onto another question. You don't need to dwell on it. If you get stuck on a question and you're spending far too long on it, remember, you got to try and complete the paper, then you should move onto something that you can do. If at the end of the paper, there's only one question to do and it's that one that you feel that you can't do, look more carefully at the question and see if whether you can attempt it. You might be able to do parts of the question although you might not be able to do the whole of the question but, at least, attempt it if you've got time and you've no other option.
Is it important to leave time to check my answers at the end?
It is important to leave time to check your answers at the end of an exam. Theoretically, you wouldn't have any time left, but it depends on the student. If you do well on the paper then the likelihood is that you do have time to check your answers. if you do have time, you should check over your answers just to make sure that you're happy with them. It is valuable time in the examination room, because once you leave that exam room, there's nothing you can do to influence the mark on your paper. The only time you've got to do that is the time that is left within the examination timetable. Make sure you use it, and certainly don't leave the examination room early.
Is it better to be concise or to put as much information as possible into my answers?
It's better to be concise when answering examination questions. Putting in too much information might suggest that you're rambling on and just putting all the information that you know about a topic and not really answering the question. The most important thing is to read the question thoroughly and make sure you answer the question, because you can write all you know about a particular period in history, but if it doesn't answer the question you won't get any marks. It's as simple as that. Make sure you answer the exam question. That's the most important factor.
What should I do if I begin to run out of time?
If you do run out of time, and it comes to the end and you've only got ten minutes left seeing it's a half-hour question that you've still got to do, don't try to do that question as if you've still got a half-hour left. Do it in outline. So if it's a mathematical problem, write down the formula that you would use--simply you would, where you would put the values into the formula and show the examiner that you know how to do the question, you just didn't have time to do the calculations. You're more likely to get more marks there in that way than if you approached the question as if you still had the full period of time left. Similarly, with an English essay, the same would apply. You could jot down the important points that you would want to do in an essay, your arguments for and against and say to the examiner that you didn't have time to write it fully but this is the, these are the points I would like to make and you'll get marks for that. More marks than trying to do the question as though you've got the full time left.