Taking Essay Exams, Study Guides Tips
If you’d like to develop your mindâ€™s full potential, pass exams easily, quickly with fun and/or have instant skills for life success, then this might be the most important letter you’ll ever read.
The truth is, knowing how to study effectively and how to pass exams with TOP grades, should be easy and fun. My own experience of helping others and myself turn failure to exam success – using the latest techniques and natural technology – shows it is possible to pass any written exams, including the General Knowledge Exam, in 28 days or less.
The most important step in preparing to take an essay exam begins weeks before the actual exam date: keep up with all assigned readings, participate in class, take notes, and look over those notes regularly. Spend the night before an exam reviewing your notes, handouts, and course texts–not reading them for the first time.Of course, preparation for an SAT or ACT essay begins years rather than weeks before the exam. But that doesn’t mean you should give up and party in the days (and nights) leading up to the test. Instead, put yourself in the right frame of mind by composing some practice essays.
English isn’t the only course that calls on you to exercise your writing skills. Essay examinations are commonly given in subjects as diverse as history, art, business, engineering, psychology, and biology. In addition, most standardized admissions tests–such as the SAT, the ACT, and the GRE–now require essays.
Although the subjects and the occasions may vary, the basic steps involved in composing an effective essay under strict time limits are essentially the same. Here are ten tips to help you manage exam pressures and compose a strong essay.
- Â Some exams require the use of PENS, while others have to be completed in PENCIL. Make sure you know what you should be using in every paper before you go in.
- Â All the major examination boards have websites these days, usually with sample papers and examiners’ reports that you can download. These sites are well worth a visit as they may offer a lot of sound advice. The examiners’ report, for instance, can give you an idea of exactly what it is that they are looking for.
- Â Don’t carried away and overload your writing with too many obvious connectives and contrastives; if every sentence has two or three such words or expressions, then the writing can seem strained and artificial. Remember- you can try too hard as well as not hard enough.
- Â Write on alternate lines (leaving every second line blank) so that you have space to make changes when checking through your work.
- Â Always credit your sources in academic writing, even when you are referring to ideas rather than actually quoting.
- Â Â Â Take spare pens and pencils just in case the one you are using stops working.
- Allow for problems, hold-ups and traffic jams on the way and make sure you arrive with time to spare so that you can go in calmy rather than in a frantic rush.
- Â Â Â Don’t forget to read the instructions and make sure you know what you are being asked to do. You should go into the exam well aware of what is expected of you, but you should always check. Don’t, however, waste a lot of time on this.
- Â A language exam is not a test of honesty and you will not be penalised if you tell the examiners that you are CANCER rather than SAGITTARIUS in a written question simply because you are sure of how to spell it. Language Tests are quite simply that; they are designed to test your language and not your honesty- don’t worry about lying or being economical with the truth in order to show off your accurate language use.
Study the topic:
Read the topic several times, looking for key words that indicate how you should develop and organize your essay:
state: present the main points in a logical order
list, enumerate, trace: be brief and to the point, as if you’re making an outline
summarize, review: give a short version of the main points
discuss, criticize, evaluate, justify: use specific facts and examples to back up your judgments
show, explain: present specific points clearly and logically in step-by-step order
Keep it in mind:
When faced with a time limit, we may be tempted to try composing an essay before we’ve composed ourselves. Resist that temptation. Breathe in, breathe out. Take a few minutes at the start of the exam period to read and think about each question.
Make sure that you read the instructions carefully: know from the start how many questions you’re supposed to answer and how long your answers are expected to be. For standardized tests such as the SAT or the ACT, make sure that you visit the test websites well before the day of the test so that you can read all instructions ahead of time.
Calculate the time you have in which to write the essay, and set up a schedule. While working under a one-hour time limit, for instance, you might designate the first five or ten minutes for discovering ideas and planning your approach, the next forty minutes or so for writing, and the last ten or fifteen minutes for revising and editing. Or you might allot a shorter period to the initial drafting and devote more time to revising the essay. In any case, plan a realistic schedule–one based on your own writing habits–and then stick to it.
Trying to write an essay before you have figured out what you want to say can be a very frustrating and time-wasting experience. Therefore, plan to spend a few minutes jotting down your thoughts in any fashion that works for you: freewriting, listing, outlining.
Don’t waste time composing a long introduction. Clearly state your main points in the first sentence. Use the rest of the essay to support and illustrate these points with specific details.
As you’re writing the essay, now and then reread the question to make sure that you haven’t wandered off course. Don’t pad your essay with information unrelated to the topic. And don’t try to bluff your instructor by repeating information using different words. Cut the clutter.
Don’t forget it:
When you’ve finished writing, take a few deep breaths and then read over the essay, word by word: revise and edit. As you reread, you may find out that you’ve left out an important piece of information or that you need to move a sentence. Go ahead and make the changes–carefully. If you’re writing by hand (rather than on a computer), use the margins to locate new information; use an arrow to redirect a sentence. Make sure that all of your corrections are clear and easy to read.
If you find yourself running short on time, don’t worry about crafting a lengthy conclusion. Instead, consider listing the key points you still want to make. Such a list will let your instructor know that lack of time, not lack of knowledge, was your problem. In any case, if you’re pressed for time, a simple one-sentence conclusion emphasizing your main point should do the trick. Do not panic and begin writing frantically: your hasty work at the end could undermine the value of the rest of the essay.
Examiners & Exam Myths:
Examiners are, by and large, sadistic so-and-sos. Their sole aim in life is to trap you and catch you out.Â In multiple choice exercises, examiners have been known to use the same letter for the correct answer several times in succession (a, a, a, a, a, etc). This is unsettling and can make students worry that their answers must be wrong;
Many students and teachers try to analyse exams and work out patterns. In one Cambridge First Certificate exercise, there were usually between four and six correct sentences. Then one year there were only two. Patterns may help, but beware of relying on them; examiners will change them without warning.
Apparently, a philosophy student got a first class grade for a paper which had “Is this a question?” as an essay title. Instead of going into the nature of questions, etc, he or she simply wrote “Yes, if this is an answer.” Perhaps you should read Exam Myth 2 before feeling encouraged to do likewise.
A student used amphetamines (a chemical stimulant) to stay awake to study all night in the days leading up to an exam, hoping to make up for lost time. Feeling shattered on the morning of the exam, they took a huge dose to make sure they were bright and alert and didn’t fall asleep halfway through. Throughout the exam, they scribbled away frantically; writing page after page. Unfortunately, they’d taken so much of the stimulant that they failed to notice that they had written everything on the same side of paper, which meant that instead of handing in a dozen sheets of paper, they had one so covered in writing that it had turned black.
Try to get a good night’s sleep the night before any exam.
Try to avoid alcohol the night before an exam, especially in quantity, as a bad hangover is among the very worst things to be suffering from in an exam room.