Why are exams necessary ?
1. It ensures that it is your own work (an acid test of quality)
2. Ultimately very democratic (it depends on the candidate, their pen and their brain rather than a pile of books which may have been bought - by the wealthy!)
3. It simulates processes in real
- in commercial/professional life, you do not always have all of your
books and source materials with you !
- most professional
examinations (taken after graduation) insist on
formal examinations for you to demonstrate your professional
1. Ensure an absolutely strict time allocation
2. Only use material relevant to the question - i.e. avoid the response of Pavlov’s dogs who salivated at the sound of a bell (do not write all you know at the sight of a particular word/phrase)
3. Have a good, tight structure of about 5-6 points (take about 4 minutes to plan/write this)
4. Use one paragraph per major point or section, separated by a blank line (white space), each taking about 6 minutes to write (so 4 minutes + 6 *6 = 40 minutes per question)
How to improve your examination performance
1. Show/quote evidence at all times
‘the pluralist view propounded by Fox(1974) indicates that..’
2. Show evidence of wide reading in/around the subject
3. Make as literate as possible (correct punctuation, spelling, sentence structure)
4. Do not be afraid to challenge the assumptions that lie behind the question (but do it intelligently)
5. Strive for an analytical, not a regurgitative style e.g.
‘One line of argument, exemplified by ABC indicates ... but the weakness of this position might be said to be... A somewhat contrary position is argued by XYZ ... who, however, neglects to give sufficient weight to... The approach offered by ABC may have the virtue of ... (being supported by more empirical evidence, more logically consistent, etc.)’
6. Do not be afraid to link in your own experience where especially relevant
Question answering strategies (suggestions, not rules!)
1. Answer 2nd best question first (to gain confidence)
2. Answer least preferred question next (whilst still fresh!)
3. Then answer intermediate questions
4. Finish (with a flourish!) on your best question.