HOW TO STOP WASTING TIME ANSWERING TOUGH TEST QUESTIONS
In the exam room
Read the instructions carefully – Before looking at the actual questions, read the rubric (instructions). Are there compulsory questions? Marks are often lost by nervous or over-confident students who overlook instructions to “Answer 1 question from Section A, and 2 from Section B” or tackle too few questions.
Work out the timing – Divide your time according to the number of questions to be answered. Split it proportionately if you have some questions (or parts of questions) which attract more marks than others. Allow some time for planning. An example might be: four essay questions each attracting 25% of the total marks in a three-hour exam = 45 minutes per question = 10 minutes planning, 35 minutes writing. Allow checking time for statistics or calculations.
Read the questions carefully. Read through the paper once and then re-read each question. You might think a topic you’ve revised hasn’t come up, when it is there but the wording is unusual. Alternatively you have revised the topic, but the question is obtuse and you do not fully understand it.
Choose your best questions – Mark any questions you might answer, and then check that you fully understand it. Do you have some relevant knowledge, ideas and evidence for the ones you choose to answer? Do not answer a question that you do not understand.
Decide on question order. Some people like to start with the topic they know best to give them a good start. Others prefer to do their best question second, because with one question completed, they can relax and expand on their best ideas and gain extra marks.