©Australian Institute of Business
GUIDE TO EXAMINATIONS This guide has two parts: Preparing for exams Taking exams It has an appendix with an example exam answer with comments about why it was so good. PREPARING FOR EXAMS Make sure you have noted the correct date, time, duration and place for the exam. Start a revision schedule for the exam several weeks beforehand – many rehearsals is a key to success and if you have not planned to set aside time over many days to rehearse and rehearse, you may fail. Prioritise the material to be studied by looking at the core issues and the questions in past exam papers. To prepare an answer to a likely question, make up a plan in note form, to outline of how you would answer a likely question, using headings and sub-headings. Use diagrams and acronyms to emphasise the linkages or associations between concepts because associations help memory. Think about one or two examples that you will use to illustrate your mastery of the concepts – location, size and so on. Make sure you take at least one five-minute break every study hour, and do not study too late on the night before the exam (about two or three hours should be OK). Do a quick review of your notes on the morning of the exam to freshen your memory. Take a spare pen or biro to the exam room.
TAKING EXAMS Choose a seat away from the aisles and the invigilator’s desk (where early finishers hands in their booklets), to reduce distractions during the exam period. Read the exam paper instructions carefully to ensure you know how many questions have to be answered and if any are compulsory. This reading includes the very important Examiner’s Ruling. Then, read all the questions and decide on the ones you will answer. Allocate your time for each question (and for each part of the question if marks are allocated to each part). For example, for a three-hour exam, if there are four questions to be answered in three hours, then each question should take 45 minutes. If a part of one question is worth one third of the marks, take about 15 minutes to answer that part. Write down the actual times on the exam paper for each question that you will answer, for example, a question could start at 9.40 and finish at 10.25.
©Australian Institute of Business
Try to stick to your time allocations. For example, in any ten-minute period, you will usually get more marks by writing some thing about a new, unanswered question than you will by writing final ‘tidbits’ to an answer that you have already spent the allocated time on and the examiner already has a good idea of how much you know about it. In other words, part-answers to two questions will usually get more marks than a finished answer to one question. That is, you get more marks from the first half of an answer than from the second half - you get more marks for starting an answer than from finishing it. Make marks on your exam paper by underlining key or ‘clue’ parts of each question to ensure you understand its important parts. As well, circle key words like ‘analyse’, ‘define’, and ‘compare and contrast’. Answer the easiest questions first (it makes you feel better). Please write legibly. Think before you start writing an answer. That is, begin by making a rough plan of your answer on the left-hand side sheet of the answer booklet (an examiner might be impressed when he sees it). Then re-check that the planned answer does indeed answer what the question asked. By the way, it usually pays to write down outlines for all your answers before starting to write the full answer for any one of them, while the ideas from your preparatory study are fresh in your memory – you can always change the outlines later if you think of other ideas. For each answer, open the answer booklet so that you have a blank sheet on both the lefthand and right-hand sides. Use the left-hand sheet of...