Exam Technique

Michael A. Allen

Last updated: 23 February 2017

[Most of what is said here also applies to homework questions.]

The answer to an exam question should be significantly different from, for example, what you find in a textbook or report. You are writing to someone to show that you understand something, rather than trying to teach someone how to solve a problem. Also, the examiner will look at your paper for 10 minutes and you will never see it again. As long as it is readable, how beautiful your answer looks is therefore not important.

Remember that if it is a science/engineering exam, it is mainly to test your ability to do science rather than maths. Wherever possible, imagine what is happening in the problem physically and try to guess roughly how the system will behave. Don't think of the question as simply doing algebra.

Doing exams effectively takes practice. Here are some suggestions which might help you earn a few more marks.