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How to pass your exams effortlessly in universities and colleges?

Updated on March 18, 2012

Before the exam

1. When preparing for an exam, pay more attention to the content before the 8th Week.

Course content covered in earlier weeks is more likely to appear on exam paper than those in later weeks. For example, if there are 12 teaching weeks in a term in your university, the content covered in weeks 1-8 are more likely to be assessed than those in weeks 9-12.

Just like you have assignment deadlines, your professor has deadlines too for writing exam papers. The exam papers need to be moderated by their colleagues and external examiners, and be ready for printing about four weeks before exam dates. The deadline for setting exam papers is usually around the 8th week. Few professors/lecturers wrote their exams at the beginning of the semester. Therefore, content before week 8 is more probably to be on examined, particularly, if the module is new.

2. Do not miss the review session if you have one.

This is simply because all exam papers have been written, moderated, and even printed by the review week. You will be disadvantaged if you choose to skip the review session.

3. Study past exam papers if they are available.

If not, ask your professor or library if you can get them. It is not only for you to know the format and type of questions would be on exam paper, but also some questions in previous years’ exams may appear on your exam paper with only minor modifications.

During the exam

4. Neat handwriting

Write so that the professor can read your handwriting. I had experience of reading almost unrecognisable squiggles on answer sheets. It was a headache that I had to constantly decipher the handwriting while marking. Remember, you won’t gain extra marks for beautiful handwriting, but you will lose marks for unrecognisable one.

5. Use bullet points wherever you can

and use the bullet points from your lecture slides wherever possible, to organise your answer. This is extremely useful if English is not your mother language.

6. Writing too much can actually count against you.

Expand/explain each bullet point. Ideally, one short paragraph for each point and leave some space between points. This will help your professor mark your answer. Keep in mind, you don’t lose marks, you earn them. Every exam paper has clear marking scheme which tells the person who marks exam how to award marks and how many marks to give on each points.

It is not the case that ‘the more the better’. You don’t earn extra points by writing a lot on a single point. Contrarily, the more you write the more likely that you make mistakes and lose marks.

7. Use diagrams to explain wherever possible

especially if you are not a native English speaker. The reason is simple. To demonstrate your understanding clearly without annoying your professor with poor grammar and lots of typos.

After the exam

8. If you fail an exam and have to resit for the exam, make sure that you know the answers to the failed exam paper. Very often, you will find identical or similar questions on the resit exam paper.

(By Min)

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