Studying Effectively

What are examiners looking for?

It is important to think about what examiners require depending on the type of examination you are doing.

What to aim for in exam essays

  • Try to keep your handwriting as legible and clear as possible
  • Keep answers clear, concise and focused to answering the question
  • Try to have a clear structure - a brief introduction, identify and discuss 3-5 aspects/examples to answer the question, ending with a brief conclusion
  • Make sure you use any 'jargon' or technical terminology accurately, and clearly explain what you mean
  • Give specific examples wherever possible, avoiding generalisations
  • If it is appropriate to give personal opinions, make sure these are still backed by evidence.

What to aim for in Multiple-Choice Questions

  • Think carefully about how your School applies negative marking and ask tutors for advice on this
  • Select the best and most appropriate answer to the question from those answers on offer
  • Problem-solving can be required to distinguish between potential answers so you may need to practice certain calculations

What to aim for in practical exams

Practical exams aim to examine your ability to perform tasks in which you apply your knowledge of the subject to solving practical problems or performing specific tasks.

The best way to prepare is to practice. Work through the various practical exercises that you have done e.g. laboratory experiments.

  • Review the aims of each practical exercise
  • Look at what was involved in the practical. Was there anything difficult or unusual?
  • Remind yourself of the equipment used and its correct name.

In a practical exam, the examiners will find out what your understanding of the topic by looking at the way you apply your knowledge to the problem or activity.

Student with a laptop



Further Reading

Practical strategies for managing exams 

more from Academic Services study resources

Managing exam stress

more from the Counselling Service

People who can help

Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service

People who can help

Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service


Studying Effectively

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