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Your Personal Guide
This is it - the BIG day.
All those years in the classroom: the homework, the private English lessons, the private Sociology tuition - it all comes down to this.
Assuming you've had the pre-requisite good night's sleep and arrived at the examination hall on time...
1. Fill in the booklet with care and attention - you don't want that to go astray!
2. After you are instructed to turn over the question paper take a deep breath ... THIS IS IT.
3. Take at least five minutes 'getting a feel of the paper'. These opening minutes are crucial. Not only will you read the questions with care but this is the time to settle down, to clear your head of extraneous thoughts, to have a last look around if you like. Don't worry that Tom is already writing like a maniac - he has started too early! This is the time to check your timings. Your Child development teacher, Theatre Studies teacher - your 'what-ever-subject teacher' will have gone through past papers and given you question timings. Write on the question paper how long you have for each question. Timing is vital!
4. Read the questions - READ THE QUESTIONS AGAIN - be sure precisely what the questions require. Answer the question written on the paper - NOT the one you want it to be. No marks for that. Give the examiner what he/she are allowed to give you marks for.
5. Choose your question wisely. Go for one within your ability - perhaps not as interesting as the one you would like to answer but go for the one in your 'comfort zone'.
6. Underline the KEY WORDS in the question. Words such as 'Describe', 'Argue', 'Discuss'. Example: 'One to one, home tuition with a private tutor is more beneficial than studying in a classroom with thirty other pupils. Argue the case for and against private tuition.' The words to underline would be: 'Argue', 'classroom', 'private tuition', 'for and against'.
7. Having timed your questions (see point 3), you will have written by each question the time you need to have finished that question by - stick to that timing.
8. PLAN - Anyone who starts to write immediately (see Tom above in point 3) is either a fool or a genius. Which one are you! Your teachers will have told you, your private tutors will have told you, your 'Pass English' books will have told you - why not do it? They can't all be wrong. Do not be the only soldier on parade that is in step!
9. Prioritise. Begin by answering:
- your best question
- the compulsory question
- the one awarding the most marks
The question with most marks is the one given the most time.
10. Constantly Check Timing. When you run out of time on a question STOP and move on to the next question. You will gain more marks at the beginning of a new question that trying to finish the previous one. Two half answered questions will normally earn you more than one complete (if good) essay.
11. DO NOT WAFFLE!! Waffling is a cardinal sin. Your school teacher, college lecturer, private tutor will all have told you that. Concentrate on what is worth saying. Work out what the question implies and what your answer is. Write a brief introduction, succinct detailed middle and brief conclusion.
12. If time runs short - write brief but clear notes of the main points. These will gain you marks.
13. Write legibly - don't give the examiner a hard time. He/she has another two hundred papers to mark, why make their task more difficult than it is?
14. When timing out (point 3 above) leave five plus minutes to check spelling and punctuation. Suppose you are a border line grade in your English - 'D' or 'C'. Suppose all your spelling and punctuation are of a grade 'A' standard. Which grade are going to be in? 'D' or 'C'? This point is VERY important - leave time for checking.
15. There goes Tom - leaving 25 minutes early! Forget him - back to your paper.
16. Didn't feel it went as well as it could have?
NO post-mortems - simply 'hit' the next exam with renewed vigour.
Dean Nixon is a private English tutor in Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire, England. Working with him is Norma Shaw who offers private Sociology tuition.
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