Skip to main content

Exam Writing Strategies

To be mentally prepared for finals, you must know the material. The only way to do this is to study at least three weeks in advance.  It’s also essential to get a good sleep in the weeks leading up to finals as our memory benefits from sleep. Nutrition is also important during the exam period, so choose foods that help keep your energy levels up and stay away from caffeine and sugar. Try to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.  Once the day has arrived to write your exam, practice positive self-talk, be optimistic, and encourage yourself!

Here are some simple exam writing strategies to follow:

  1. Once you begin the exam, immediately write down any terms or formulas that you have memorized. This will alleviate some anxiety because you will have written down the important information at the very beginning and will have it as a reference when needed.
  2. Read the instructions carefully. Sometimes you are only expected to complete part of the exam as opposed to every question. Ask for clarification if you are unsure.
  3. Review the contents, format and scoring of the exam. Skim over the questions so you get an idea how much time is required for each question. Plan your time according to the questions and what they’re worth; identify what questions are more difficult or easy. Allot enough time to review your exam at the end.
  4. Address each question carefully in a systematic manner. Underline key words when you read each question. Did the question ask more than one question? Really think about the question; what are you being asked to do? You may include ideas/calculations in the margins or on the back of your exam if you think this will help you solve the problem. Or you can show the steps you took to find the solution.
  5. Write an answer for every question- as long as you will not be penalized. Sometimes we make educated guesses that are correct. If you don’t know the answer at all, always provide a definition or a related concept as this may earn you part marks. Write your answer in point form if you notice you are running out of time.
  6. Review your exam once you are done. Do not change answers unless you are 100% sure that the answer is wrong. Usually when we don’t know for sure, our first hunch is correct. If you are writing a math exam, use reverse calculations to check your answers.
  7. Use all the time you are given to write an exam. Do not leave right when you are finished. If you were unsure about some of your answers, more time may allow information to surface.