Exam Tips

I've got this new device for measuring time. It is called a pen. I can get around a third of the way through a new red ball point pen in a day at the moment. I can just about tell what time it is by the amount of ink left.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm marking at the moment. Around 100 second/third year papers and then I get to mark the 150 or so first year ones. Wonderful. But you do get some quite good exam tips which are worth passing on (sorry if these are a bit UK University-centric, but that is where I work) :


  • answer your questions in order. If you can't do one part, leave a blank page and go back to it. Nothing annoys a marker more than having to flip through an answer book looking for bits of questions. And you really don't want to annoy the marker (although of course it makes no difference to your mark). and start each answer on a new page, after all, you aren't paying for the answer books...
  • don't make things up. People answer fiction in the faint hope that the marker might go for it. Never worked when I tried it as a student, and doesn't work when I'm marking either.
  • don't answer a different question. Showing off the bit you happened to revise (but didn't come up on the paper) is not going to impress anyone, least of all the person marking.
  • work through the last three previous papers answering all of the questions and get them marked by someone. If you do this it is almost impossible to fail.
  • rough your answer out first. Make some notes in pencil, or marked "rough" before you write out the proper answer. This helps you structure things.
  • don't write in dirty great blocks of text. This makes it very hard to mark. If you split things up it looks a lot nicer. Don't be afraid to use bullet points or tables if these get the answer accross. And never underestimate the value of a good diagram.
  • don't leave early. At Hull students can leave after the first 30 minutes of a 3 hour exam if they want to. But think how stupid you'd feel if you thought of something after you have left the room.....
  • If there is something affecting your performance, make sure that your tutor knows about it. Anything which stops you giving 100% is something you should make people aware of.
  • Oh, and being lucky helps as well!