How to deal with uncertainty in your exam

 

ONE SIMPLE PRINCIPLE WILL MAKE YOUR EXAM SUCCESS MORE LIKELY

Any exam requirements you don’t attempt must necessarily score zero. How could it be any other way? This important insight translates into a very simple formula: No answer = no marks.

Learning this formula could substantially increase your final marks. You need to know it, because it’s not on any of the formula sheets provided in your exams. Applying the formula means you must always give an answer, even when you aren’t sure. Start doing this now as part of your exam practice.

MARKING MISCONCEPTIONS

Before going any further, let’s reassure and remind ourselves how marks are awarded.

Q. Do wrong answers get marks deducted?

A. No. There is no negative marking.

Q. If I make a mistake and get the wrong answer at the start, do I lose all the marks for that question?

A. There is no further loss of marks as long as your subsequent method is correct.

Q. If I get 80% of the marks for 60% of the paper that I answer, don’t I pass?

A. If you work this out, you will only score 80% x 60% = 48% of the marks out of a potential 100%. That would, sadly, be a fail.

IT'S SMART TO GUESS

This all makes it very smart to guess when you don’t know. Leave any blank spaces and you will simply throw marks away, in most questions some marks can usually be earned very quickly. Guessing has two important benefits:

  1. You may well guess right, and score marks. With practice, your guesses will become remarkably accurate.
  2. Having a go, rather than giving up, will always make you feel happier, whatever the outcome. You’ll then be in better shape to tackle the rest of your paper.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Repeated practice is an essential key to grounding your excellent exam technique. Practicing past question papers under exam conditions is your number one insurance policy. Invest enough time and effort now, so that when you take your real exam you will pass with a big safety margin. Practicing past question papers will help you answer all parts of all requirements by:

  1. Working out and writing down time allocations.
  2. Sticking to them.
  3. Reading questions actively and understanding what they require.
  4. Planning all your answers for maximum marks in minimum time.
  5. Becoming familiar with the structure of your exam.
  6. Replicating the time pressure of the exam and identifying your personal, unhelpful exam techniques, for example, speed-reading requirements.
  7. Identifying things you already know, as a foundation for further understanding.

Your likelihood of ultimate success will then rise substantially.

RECOVER YOUR COMPOSURE

If you find you don’t know how to answer a question, despite all your diligent practice, here are some top tips:

DO DON'T
Breath. Don't panic.
Read the question again carefully. Don't speed-read or skip-read.
Stick to your time plan. Don't overrun your time plan.
Keep going - if you have time left, complete as much as you can. There are generous part-marks for part-right answers. Don't give up (Unless your time is up, in which case stop immediately)
Check your paper at the end. Fill in any remaining blanks. Don't despair. Everyone involved in the xam process wants you to pass.

ELIMINATE THE NEGATIVE

Multiple-choice questions give you an extra advantage. The correct answer is right in front of you. You only need to identify it. To answer any multiple-choice questions you’re not sure about, use elimination. Cross out the answers you know aren’t right. Then guess or figure out the best answer from the remainder.

GET OFF THE FENCE

You must get off the fence to give an answer. But which is the better of two or more multiple answers if you are not sure?

  1. Read the question again to see if it contains a clue.
  2. Guess.
  3. Move on to the next question.

NEVER HEDGE YOUR BETS

Only give one answer to each multiple-choice question. You can’t successfully hedge your bets. If you give more than one answer, no credit can ever be given, even if one of your answers is right. Whatever the style or format of the question, always give an answer. Practice that consistently and it will work like magic.

THERE'S HELP OUT THERE FOR ACT STUDENTS

The ACT Learning Academy website hosts suggested study timetables’ and information on exam dates and revision classes. In addition, you can find a range of resource articles to help you develop your behavioral and business skills. If you are not sure what you need to do, be sure to use the online student forum which is available to ask your tutor any questions and discuss challenges with your fellow students.

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Author: Doug Williamson FCT