Exam Writing Tips For College & University Students
So you may have been up all night cramming way too much info into your brain for your exam the next day. Here are some general tips to help you do your best going into the exam room.
- Reach for your ultimate preparation and alertness for the exam time.
- Focus and supercharge your mind.
- Get some sleep! Don’t stay up all night if you want to be alert. You reach a point where your productivity declines anyway, so sleep to refresh your mind the next morning.
- Remember the main points of your notes, reviewing what the instructor has emphasized to supercharge your intermediate memory.
- Review crucial facts and info in the minutes while you’re waiting for the exam room to open up.
- Recall and write that info immediately when the test starts.
- Use memory tricks to help such as acronyms and unusual illustration to associate to the key words and facts you have to remember.
- Begin by skimming the questions as quickly as possible and note any initial thoughts beside each question.
- You don’t always have to start at the beginning if you know another question better. Start on a question you know well to give you confidence, get off to a good start, that you can finish quickly rather than getting stuck on and taking valuable time on one you’re less sure of.
- Remember your objective is to show the prof what you know. If your thoughts aren’t clicking on one question, you’re probably wasting your time. Move on to a question where you can be more productive.
- Spend more time on heavier weighted questions.
- Take a few moments to organize your answers to avoid presenting information in a random disarray.
- Have rough paper handy to jot a quick outline or checklist of points you want to cover (and to capture those few points you reviewed while waiting for the exam to start that are in your short term memory!), or try a couple of approaches on a proof if you’re not sure of the solution.
- On longer written answers, be sure to have an introduction and conclusion.
- Be as interesting and creative as you possibly can in your limited time.
- Go for partial credit when you don’t know the answer in full.
- On true/false and multiple choice questions, always make a guess if there is no penalty for wrong answers.
- Be thorough and show what you do know. Let the prof know what you’re thinking. If you just put down the conclusion and you’re wrong, you get no credit. So write down every thought that might be pertinent. Write as much and as fast as you can. Lay a framework for an answer. Even if your conclusion is wrong, the prof can see your reasoning, maybe some of that is right.
(Africa’s Leading Author On Campus Issues)