What to do in the exam…

Start by unpacking the question: Don’t rush in. Scrutinise the question. What is it asking you? How many parts are there to the question? Again, what are the key terms to keep in mind?Plan your answer. This may take 5 -10 minutes but it is worth it. Remember, you are expected to produce a cogent and convincing response to the question so work out what points are going to constitute your argument. How are you going to organise them in a series of connecting paragraphs? In a closed book exam, it’s helpful to jot down some abbreviated quotations beforehand so you can ‘dip’ into these as you go along.

Writing your answer. Obviously, any skilfully executed response will have an introduction, development and conclusion. Your introduction is a signpost telling the examiner what they should expect. Engage directly with the key terms and state what your response is going to argue. This provides a confident opening and the examiner will anticipate that you will stay on track. In the development, each paragraph should open with a topic sentence which indicates the aspect of your argument now being dealt with.

Use short, embedded quotations to support your points.

Avoid lapsing into narrative or description. There are no marks for ‘telling the story’.

Be specific. Select knowledge that is relevant to your key terms.

Beware of regurgitating too many teacher resources. Often these ill –digested notes expose poor understanding of the text. Only write down what you understand.

Don’t crow-bar in answers that you’ve memorised. Examiners can detect these! Don’t answer the question you wished you’d been given. Select what is relevant to this question.

Your conclusion should draw your points together without needless repetition. This should be the logical culmination of all your preceding points.

Leave time to proof –read your answer. Crucial errors may be picked up here.


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