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Karen Petrenko and Charmaine Botha

Learning Skills Advisors: Monash South Africa

Starting your day (on the day of the exams)

Exam Reading time
Answering questions: Essay type questions
Short Answer questions
Multiple-Choice questions
Open Book Exams

On the Day: sitting the exam

Have a good breakfast
Wear comfortable clothes
Check that you have several pens and necessary
Re-read your summaries but dont try to cram new
Arrive at the exam venue early
Avoid last minute panic but expect to be a little
During the exam:

During reading time

Read the entire paper thoroughly.
Check instructions (optional/compulsory; short/long
answers etc)
Allocate time proportionally to the value of each
Decide on the order of your answers and organise
plans (mentally if writing is not permitted)
When answering questions

Make sure you answer ALL questions one excellent answer will
not compensate for a missed one (= zero).
Keep to pre-set time limits for each question.
Find the themes, relate these to the course
Number answers clearly and accurately.
Write on alternate lines and leave space at
the end of each question.
Work thoroughly but rapidly.
Answer the hardest questions first particularly if they are worth the
most marks.
Use other questions for clues.
Notice where words/figures are emphasised.
Identify formulae and equations presented in words.
Essay Questions:

Essay type questions test understanding (themes,

ideas and concepts) and your ability to analyse,
interpret and evaluate
Answer the question precisely Analyse the topic by
identifying key words or phrases which will tell you
what is expected in your answer
Plan your answer eg a mind map or linear plan
Give more than just the facts you may also have to
give an opinion, develop an idea or discuss a position
Essay Questions

Make sure you understand the ideas, concepts and

theories as set out in the course/unit
Explain your ideas clearly and produce specific examples
DO NOT write for too long on any one question. If you do
you will be under time on another, and risk loosing more
marks than you will gain.
Begin with the questions you find easiest and which deal
with the material you know best
If you run out of time use bullet points to complete your
Short Answer Questions
These test knowledge and understanding of definitions,
formulae, principles, and explanations. answers need to be
accurate. When approaching the short answer test, look for
key words in the question
For example:
Define : Give clear precise meanings
List: Write an itemised set of accurate and concise
statements or formulae.
State: Write down main points, or describe a principle or
Explain: Clarify the meaning of a statement or question.
Diagram: Provide a plan, chart, or table of some kind.
For further examples of key words, you should go to the
list of instruction words. Remember,
Multiple-choice questions

Your best strategy is to know your material well

Examine the sequence of questions.
Read all the alternatives before choosing
the answer.
Make certain you are choosing the best
answer to the question.
Be aware of the wording: always, never,
mostly, rarely, double negatives, (eg not
unknown), the passive voice.
Make an educated guess for unknown answers.
Watch your time very carefully
Open Book Exams

You need to be thoroughly prepared

You do not have time to read your textbook in the
exams or find new information
Know your way around your texts
Be familiar with your texts
Know where to find sections that you may need to
refer to
Coloured post-it stickers are very useful for this
Wishing you a great exam
Thank you