Examination Performance: Answering Questions

When you are a student, and you are stuck in the midst of a harrowing exam, one key skill you need is how to answer questions in the exam.

When it comes to answering questions, different types of questions will require different answers, but one basic principle needs to be remembered, and that is this: answer the question. Don’t leave anything out and don’t go off on tangents. Answer the question specifically with what it is asking for.

When you are answering a written question remember to explain the concept using key words and terminologies you have learned throughout the semester. If you are answering a mathematical question, note down and list in your answer the key values and data you need to answer the question.

If your teachers have given you a certain format to approach questions, follow it. For example, your chemistry lecturer might tell you to write down the assumptions you make and the chemical equation before you start crunching and calculating numbers. Deviating away from their format might make you lose marks. If you are answering a math question, show all working out. Even if you get the final answer wrong, you might be able to scrape up some extra consequential marks for showing working out and showing your thinking process.

If you are answering a written question explaining a concept, and you have absolutely no idea how to answer it even after several attempts, just explain parts of the concept you do understand even if you don’t know the final answer. Writing more is better than writing less in an exam (unless extra writing makes your final answer wrong when its already right), and the examiners want to see what you know.

If you get stuck on a question, and you make no progress for 1-2 minutes, take a deep breath, relax, and move on to another question. The answer might come to you later. Don’t try and force out an answer out of you. Once you write down your final answer, make sure the examiners can clearly see it. Highlighting, underlining, circling, or drawing a box around your final answer can do this.

If you are doing well in a certain section of the exam, don’t stop and move to another section. Keep at it and only stop until you either get stuck or the question is answered. Use momentum to your advantage.

Most of allies be sure to keep track of time throughout the exam while you in the midst of answering all the questions. The last thing you want is to be caught off-guard when you realize you don’t have as much time left as you thought. Most of the time examiners will let you know when there are only a certain number of minutes left. Be aware of this, and when this happens, keep your composure. Note how much time you have left and plan accordingly.

Answering exam questions is a skill, and this skill can be honed with practice. So even before the exam, you must hone this skill by practicing with exam style questions.

When you are in the exam, anything can happen. Just remember that every exam usually follows the basic structure: answering questions. So learn how to answer questions the right way, and you should be able to survive.

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About Dan Amazona

Dan has always been a high achiever with a particular strength in mathematics. He achieved an impressive ATAR, came DUX of his school and is now in his final years at Monash University studying to become a rocket scientist and TOTC home tutor.

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