How to Get Good Marks in Exams in Short Time
Five to seven exams are taken by a student per semester. Most of them written in the form of an exam. Some take 60 minutes, others are three or four hours long; In some exams, multiple-choice exercises are used, but often the answers have to be freely formulated.
Whether medicine, law, mechanical engineering, teaching or business administration: The strategies for a successful written exam are very similar. By that, I do not mean the main topics or the kind of exam preparation, but the procedure, while the written exam is written. As different as the individual exams are, in the end, it is important to answer the exam questions as well and as quickly as possible.
So I’m familiar with exams. If I were to write down my theoretical knowledge, I would probably create my own book series. The problem would be: these books would be dull. And: Theoretical knowledge does not help at first. So in this article, I have collected practical tips for you, which you can take on without frills and use directly for your next exam.
Here we go:
Create a checklist!
On the exam day you have to keep in mind other important facts in addition to the learned content: When does the exam begin? In which room does it take place? When do I have to leave? Which tools do I need? And so on. Create a checklist for these conditions and collect all relevant preparation steps there. This way, you do not have to remember your exam organization, minimizing the risk of forgetting and being more relaxed overall.
Do not start directly!
Even the longest waiting time before the exam will eventually come to an end. But after the exam has been started and the exercise sheets handed out, you should not do one thing: start immediately. Many students rush after handing over directly to task 1 and start writing. But this “strategy” is naive, stands in the way of an optimal test result and prevents your best possible performance. Why? Because your exam is not a self-explanatory to-do list that you just have to work through. The different tasks must first be perceived, analyzed and classified. More now:
Get an overview!
The first step in your exam should be to get a solid overview of the entire exam. How many exercise sheets are there? Are they labeled one-sided or two-sided? How many tasks and subtasks are there? Which topics are addressed? How should I answer? Written? Bullet points? Graphically? Multiple-choice? How many points are awarded? Tasks could be easy – which are rather difficult? Once you have the total overview, you go into detail.
Read the assignment Exactly!
In every exam, countless points are given away because the tasks are not read correctly. Many students just scan the tasks, look for keywords, and then start editing. But exactly, in this case, they overlook important clues and answer in the worst case over the question. Therefore, read the questions and work instructions in your exam exactly and pay attention to subtleties. “Describe” means something other than “Discuss”, “Calculate the energy” is not equal to “Calculate the specific energy”.
Do not interpret too much!
On the one hand, you have to read the questions and details in your exam exactly – on the other hand, you must not over-interpret them and make you crazy. If you hang on to it for minutes, what meaning a fueling word might have like “first,” or why the person in the fictitious example is called Müller and not Meier, you are wasting your time. If in doubt, ask or wonder if this peculiarity is really relevant to the basic problem.
While you study the task, it may be useful to create notes in parallel. What is the initial situation? Which data, facts, values are given? In which the main topic is the task classified? Are there any special features or sketches? Marking important passages can also be helpful, but is not allowed in every exam. The additional making of notes on the examination documents, however, already. Just make sure that you mark your notes as such.
Use your time wisely!
Time is your most precious resource during the exam. That’s why you have to keep well with the time available and divide it wisely. You have to ration them strictly, divide your exam and keep an eye on deviations. Otherwise, you spend too much time on one task, setting wrong priorities and losing valuable reserves for the rest of the exam. At the beginning of your exam, therefore, set a fixed time limit for each subtask and orientate yourself to it.
Keep an eye on the time!
Divide time and hope for the best is not enough. It is important that you look at the clock regularly while working on your exam and make sure that you are “in time”. Many students digress when answering the exam questions, junk around and thereby lose their sense of time. They fall from the clouds when the announcement “you have five minutes left.” Sounds. Control yourself by keeping track of time.
Start with the simplest task!
Which task do you usually start your exam with? With the first? Good choice – but only if the first task is the simplest task. In general, there are two types of high-priority tasks: tasks that score a lot and tasks that you can do quickly and easily. My advice: start with the simplest tasks. Only do what you can safely and then dare to the big chunks. Get a point foundation on which you can build on. But beware: Do not skim on your solutions unnecessarily. Just because you know the solution, you do not have to present it in great detail and in beautiful writing. Work efficiently.
If you do not understand an aspect of the task or if you are not familiar with a concept, you must not get caught up in these ambiguities for too long. Find out what you do not understand and ask. The university staff is there for you during your exam: to help you. You probably will not receive any clues as to the desired solution, but ambiguity or misunderstanding can usually be clarified in dialogue.
Answer every question!
Before writing something wrong, some students prefer not to write anything. This is great for the corrective examiners, because it saves them work, but awkwardly from the examinees’ point of view. Only if you offer a solution can your examiner give points for it? Sometimes rough approaches, a sketch, a formula or a few keywords are enough to collect at least a few sub-points. Answer every question – even if you do not know the solution and have only a vague idea.
If you have already reviewed a written exam as part of an exam review, you will have noticed the following: On the first one or two pages you have worked extremely neatly and made efforts while writing; after that, your handwriting has become more and spicier until the end, only roughly recognizable what you wanted to express. I often experience that students in the retreat start comfortably and write down the answers in peace. But at some point, the realization begins that there is no additional price to win by beautiful handwriting. So write fast – right from the beginning. Of course, the examiner must be able to decipher your answers, but a 1A typeface has never brought anyone an extra point.
Especially if your exam consists of many subtasks that you have to answer individually, it may be helpful if you check off the already completed questions on your task sheet. That way, you’ll keep track of things and you’ll have less of a clue in your records. If you edit the tasks of the exam in an individual order, it is also advisable to note this “processing history” in a nutshell.
Do not stay too long on difficult tasks!
In each exam, there will be tasks that you can not work on right away. Either because the task is too complex or because you can not immediately assign the main topic. Sometimes because you did not learn well enough – but that’s not what it’s about. If you’re stuck to a difficult task for a long time and get stuck, move on to the next question. Do not spend too much time on the same problem if you can not find an approach. Postpone your task and return to her later.
Orient yourself to sample solutions!
When answering exam questions, you do not have to start from scratch. As you answer the questions and work on more complex problems, orient yourself to the style of practice exercises and sample solutions. Remember the solution sketches and exam schedules that you met during the semester and translate the approach to your exam assignments. Just the mention or superficial application of fixed processing steps can already bring you partial points.
Estimate the scope of the tasks!
There are exams that you can not handle. These exams are overloaded and will be adjusted later as part of the points distribution. However, students often do not make it to the last task because they incorrectly or not at all estimate their scope. For questions that could be answered in a sentence, write a page body text. Of course, the other way round is also: Under time constraints or due to a lack of understanding complex problems are answered with three keywords, which results in a large loss of points.
Still time? Read the correction!
During my time as a student and later as a supervisor, on the other hand, I have often seen students who have left earlier after the exam or the remaining minutes sitting motionless before their exam papers. Not because they gave up, but because they did not want to use their time. If you have some time left at the end of the exam, do not just throw it away. Read your exam correction and check your answers. In case of doubt, add something or perform more aspects.