Examination Performance: Exam Troubleshooting

You might have the most fail-proof strategy during exam, but inevitably, there are times when things don’t go your way. When these things happen, a lot of students fall back on what they know and they do what is most familiar to them: they freak out and lose focus.

That is why it is important to have contingency plans and strategies in mind you can go to when things go south during the exam. We as students need to learn how to troubleshoot effectively.

So what are some troubleshooting tips?

Well let’s start with bathroom breaks. If there is ever a time you need to go to the toilet during the exam, then go! Don’t hold it in! Holding it in provides an unnecessary distraction, because you can’t focus on the exam, and your focus will be on trying to hold it in.

Next, when it’s the middle of a long exam, you might start to feel tired, even drowsy. At this point, the adrenalin has worn off a little bit because you have settled into the exam. If it has been a while since your last large meal, you might even get hungry. Now is a good time to take a sip of water, andif the exam authorities allow food in the exam, now is the time to eat it. Also don’t forget to rehydrate consistently throughout the exam to avoid fatigue as much as possible.

What if you get really tired in an exam? What do you do?Well, whenever your brain hits a sort of lull in the exam, that’s okay. It might mean your brain needs a short break. I recommend just staring blankly into space and recharging your brain for, say 30 seconds to maybe 2 minutes, no longer. If you go any longer than that, you lose momentum. Any shorter, and your brain wont recover enough. Once you feel you are ready to continue with the exam, continue.

What if you have made a mistake? Also, what if that mistake was substantial and not just a mild slip-up?In an exam, you have time constraints, and if you are writing in pen and you make a mistake, don’t waste your time applying correction fluid unless specifically instructed by the examiners (which is unlikely). Instead, just neatly cross or scribble out your mistake and continue. Don’t scribble out too much of your mistake so the examiner can see your work, so they have a better grasp of how much you understand. The same follows if you are writing in pencil and you make a large mistake. Unless it’s a drawing with a minor error, don’t waste your time rubbing out your mistake. Just cross it out.

What if you run out of paper? If the exam supplies extra exam writing paper, then don’t be afraid to use as much paper as you can within reason. Don’t let a self-imposed paper limit be a mental distraction in the exam. Remember that it is highly likely that the examiners will supply extra batches of writing paper.

Finally, the most important thing to remember when you hit trouble in an exam is: keep your composure and follow the strategy you have set up. If you do not have no strategy, just breathe, relax for about a minute, and decide what is the best thing to do. Be prepared for anything in an exam, because preparation is the best form of troubleshooting.

If you have some great tips and advice you’d like to share then let us know by contacting us at our Tutoring in Sydney website, or calling us on 1300 654 746.

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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