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Saturday, October 27, 2007
  How to sit exams
OK, at last its time, all the preparation and revision done (well almost all that's going to get done anyway ;-) the exam is tomorrow... What is left to do?

Photo David HC

  1. Prepare your survival kit:
    • two pens
    • two pencils (if it's an exam for which you have to draw graphs or whatever a sharpener too)
    • eraser
    • ruler
    • the essential damp face cloth in a transparent plastic bag to wipe your hands - they get sweaty in exams and to cool your fevered brow and neck. It is astonishing how refreshed you'll feel and how much more cool and calm too ;-)
    • Tictacs or if you are like me and 3 hours is too long between coffees caffeine tablets (but do NOT take too many, or you will swallow too many, NOT a good look!

    Photo Jack Hynes

  2. Before the exam:
    • plan how you will get there, if it is by public transport make sure you get an earlier bus or train, if by car allow extra time for parking - you do not want to arrive flustered in a hurry
    • the best advice comes from the famous Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy - Don't Panic!
    • really, do not panic, however bad it seems, you will survive, and if you keep calm pass with a better grade than you expect or deserve ;-)
  3. During the exam:
  4. Photo Mr.Tea

    • you planned how much time to allow for reading the paper and planning your answers (probably about 15mins, maybe 30mins for a 3 hour exam) and how long for each answer (30 mins?) write down the timetable - if you don't write it, you won't stick to it!
    • read the questions - SLOWLY - work out what they mean (really mean) you are NOT going to write a brain dump "all I know about..."
    • mark the questions you will answer
    • write headings for your answers - you can easily add more headings (the ones you forget now) later - but if they are written on the pages that count you already have some marks
    • sit back, stretch - hands locked behind head stretch your back and look at the ceiling, relax, do it again, wriggle a bit - this sounds daft, but you'll be surprised how calm it makes you feel, and calm is your friend ;-)
    • keep to the timetable, be ruthless, and start the next question
    • take regular breaks, use the cloth, do the stretch, relax, noticed how funny and worried everyone else looks - remember you are calm!
    • If (despite the timetable, and my advice above) the 15 minute warning comes before you have finished, try to fill out the headings that are left with some key points each... that way you can get most of the marks...

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