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Revision: Rehearsing exam answers

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It is very important that you practise what you will do in the exam - writing or speaking answers.

Mock exam

Mock exams give you a good idea of what it will be like on the day and how much material you can expect to write. Develop your skills by using past exam questions and writing out some complete answers within the set time. If you are more used to typing on a computer this will be good practice.

Work under exam conditions by finding somewhere quiet where you'll be undisturbed, away from any module materials or notes, using the time allowed. If you can't do this at home use the quiet area of a library.

Tackle your mock exam in the same way as a real one, which is to

  • read everything through carefully before you start
  • choose, plan and write your answers, re-reading the question from time to time as you go
  • check that you've followed the instructions
  • check your work before the end.

You may be able to find someone to read your answers and check that your writing is legible and your work makes good sense. However, don't ask for criticism of the content from anyone who has not taught or studied the module.

A mock exam is one good way to get in some handwriting practice before the day - you'll need to write quickly while keeping your work legible. Don't use small writing, especially as it may be a bit messy: larger writing should be easier for the examiner to read. You may need to compromise presentation standards in order to complete the required number of reasonably full answers. Practice your handwriting regularly in the approach to the exam; this will help condition your hand and wrist to cope with writing for longer periods of time.

Answer exam questions

Choose a few past exam questions, write them out on pieces of card and shuffle them. Pick out a question at random and try to answer it in the time the exam allows.

There are differences between answers expected for assignments and those for exams. Most assignments are untimed, so you can produce lengthier and more polished answers. In the exam you need to write quickly without paying so much attention to your writing style.

Examiners are fully aware of the constraints exams place on the writer, and do not expect the same kind of answers as in assignments.

Stuck for time?

If you don't have time to do a full three-hour mock exam, try just writing the plan of an answer for each question. It's an important preparation and revision strategy that will give you a feel for what the exam paper will require of you. It also gives you experience of answering questions under exam conditions.

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