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Answers from a Lazy Topper: How to ace an English Exam

Updated on May 9, 2016
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Maths, History, Physics or Sociology- you ace in all those subjects. But somehow you can’t seem to do well in your English exam despite the fact that you think you write awesome answers.

This often happens to most students because they take the subject lightly. I mean, it’s just English, right? But to get a good grade in the end of term results, you need to do well in all your subjects, including English.

So here are the tips which will help you get better grades in English:

1. Make your answers:

Most of my classmates, I have noticed, don’t concentrate much on writing notes when it comes to English. They simply sit for the exam thinking that since their English is so damn good – writing the paper will be a breeze. And that’s why they end up scoring a much lesser average in English as compared to the other subjects.

Make sure you make proper answers to the questions that you find behind the text book even if you know that the same questions will not come for the exams. Writing them will open up new keywords and sentences that you can use to tackle similar questions. The idea of preparing for an English exam is know the appropriate keywords and sentences and employ them whenever necessary.

2. Practise your Grammar:

Honestly, I suck at Grammar, and I tend to lose most of my marks in that area. This is because I don’t know the rules. I am pretty sure that there are many of you like me out there.

So what I do is that I read aloud the sentence many-a-times. This is not a foolproof method, but it works most of the time for me. I would always suggest that you learn the rules and practise well. Get a reference book if you need.

3. Writing Skills:

There’s only one suggestion to improving your writing skills: that is, to practise. You might think that you have read plenty of books so you know to write. But, the writing skills portion on your exam paper focus at expression in a limited number of words. Hardly can you call it creative writing. You are given a question and you need to answer that question, not anything else. Your writing skills may be excellent but unless it conveys the question, then there is no point in showcasing ‘pretentious verbiage’. Know the formats correctly and practise writing at least each of them once so that you have a fairly good idea on how to tackle the writing portion.

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4. Character Sketch:

Often English papers ask you to give detailed character sketch. Since it may not be possible to prepare character sketches of all the characters in all chapters of the book, be smart enough to select the ones which are likely to come. Look at the protagonists and then see how much light is thrown on their character. These are ones which usually come in the paper.

Another mistake I have noticed is that most people, when asked to give a character sketch, tend to write the entire life history of that character. Even if you have written it in first-class English, you’d be sure you get a much lower grade. This is because you are not addressing the question. The question is to give a character sketch, not list the character’s life history or achievements unless you use them to support your answers. Be always sure to understand what the question is asking.

5. Stick to the world limit:

It’s a common mistake many of us make unintentionally. People exceed the word limit, in case one, when they know too much. And case two, when they don’t know the answer, and hence continue writing hoping that the answer is somewhere inside the garbage that they’ve just finished writing. Anyhow, the key is to stick well within the word limit, otherwise you lose marks in expression because you are not being able to express within the required limit.

6. Find a mentor:

No matter how good you are, there is always someone better than you out there. So once you’re done with all your notes, give them to a person who has good English and grammar skills for proofreading. I show them to my mum. But if you think that your mum might be poorer in the language than you, be sure to find somebody else.

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