Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A New Series about Exam Tips -- Practise Reading the Questions Right

If I had only one tip to give a student, it would be this one: read the question!

Even though I give my revision students a mantra about remembering to read questions carefully, they will still create or manufacture their own version of what the question is asking, and thus, end up NOT answering the question at all.

Just a slight alteration to the starting point
can mean you miss the goal entirely!

It happens all the time in the exam. The question can be about an early morning stroll through the town, but students will write instead about what it's like at night, or what it's like to walk into the country from the city, or write about the city in two different seasons.

Or, it can ask what a father should do about his child's experience at school, but the answer is turned into a diatribe against modern educational practices.

For an exam that tallies 50 out of 100 marks for how well you can read, it would make sense to avoid sabotaging your grade by breezing over the question and misinterpreting it.

Here are some quick tips to help you with this niggling weakness:

  1. Take your time with the question; if you tend to read it too quickly, then make yourself underline each word as you say it to yourself within your head.
  2. Jot down a re-wording of it on the question paper.
  3. Grab a big pile of old exams, even those before June 2015, and talk over the questions with your parents or a study partner.
  4. For the composition section of Paper 3, don't expect to memorise and re-create a description or story that you practised as part of your revision season. The examiners know, and nine times out of ten, will be too awkward for fitting the task and merit only a "C" at best. AT BEST!
Basically, don't be a doof. The question is as important as your answer, if only to set you on the right path.

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