Thursday, April 19, 2012

Secrets of a top-scoring student.... SECRET 5


Exam preparation strategies
  1. start early - giving yourself a head start so that you can revise at a leisurely pace
  2. study for all subjects equally
  3. revise, not learn
    • learning is the acquisition of new knowledge in our brains
    • revising involves the refreshing of one's knowledge already acquired over the many lessons in school
    • it is necessary to learn before you can revise
One Month Before
  • Exam preparation is a key stage in your course for good grades

  1. Develop a study plan
    • systematic overview of what to revise, the timetable and how to dedicate this time pool
    • divide your time among the subject equally
    • introduce variety - revise at least 2 unrelated subjects on any given revision day
    • dedicate more time to studying material that will carry more weight in the exam
    • include regular breaks
  2. sit down and get to work
  3. find doing something pleasurable which can be easily controlled
    • non-academic in nature
  4. start revision process
    • read chapter thoroughly
    • underline points you don't understand
    • read notes you took down
    • make summary points for the chapter
Summary notes
  • list only main points in the chapter
    • concise and simple memory stimulators
  • highlight important definitions of technical terms to be tested
  • flashcards
2 weeks before
  • knowing the exam paper is key to your academic success
    • go through past-year exam papers (a chance to rebuild confidence)
    • focus on the questions you got wrong
  • reread summary notes and flashcards to refresh your memory
The day before
  • have a good night's sleep
  • doing well at exams is a matter of how the information that you have learnt is utilized and applied
The day itself
  • Believe in yourself, and believe that you can do it
  • "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." - Edmund Hillary
  • put your mind in a relaxed state
    • color green has relaxing effects
  • make a quick note of general exam structure (how many sections? type of questions?)
  • start answering systematically and with confidence
    • easy questions first, in order to build confidence
    • if you are unable to answer a question, skip it and move to the next. You can always return to it later. Never waste precious time on your inability to answer the question.
  • aim to finish 15-30 minutes before end of paper
    • go through your paper at least once
    • the power of checking the answers in the answer scripts
      • check that all the questions have been answered and that no part has been missed out
      • check for calculation errors
      • check for spelling and grammatical errors
      • try to improve the presentation of the answer by rephrasing ambiguous sentences
  • remember that your name and student number is written on EVERY PAGE of the script

Tackling exam questions: Type of questions
  • it is necessary to know what kind of questions you are facing
  • if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. - Sun Zi
MCQs - usually where the student can pick up the maximum number of points in any test
  1. analyze the question - do you understand WHAT is being asked?
  2. underline the KEY TERMS in the question that you need to take note of
  3. read through ALL the options available
    • choose the answer which is the BEST or the MOST SUITABLE
  4. do you know the answer? if not:
    • effective method = elimination
    • psychology - B or C (if you really have no idea)
  5. If you don't know, skip and do later
  6. never leave a blank answer
Fill in the Blanks
  1. read thru carefully and precisely
  2. write answers and read through for coherence
  3. should be grammatically and logically correct
  4. length and space = indicator of length and type of answer expected
  5. guess but look for clues
Free Response Questions
  1. Abstain from giving answers which are made up of one word or a couple of sentences. Your answer should be made up of an introduction, main argument and conclusion.
  2. Level of complexity and detail
    • substantiate your viewpoints with different arguments, and substantiate your arguments with ample examples
  3. Key terms to look out for
    • list / enumerate - no explanation or details
    • evaluate - list and provide details and explanation
    • critique - highlight strong points and weak points
  4. Start writing your answer
    • paragraphing allows for thought structuring and neatness
    • write neatly and legibly
  5. Never leave a blank answer
  6. Use drawings / diagrams to help in organization of ideas 
    • flowcharts to accompany sentences
Ace the oral exams
  • verbal interaction between examiner and student
  • the founding principle of success at any exam is to know your subject
    • research common topics
    • prepare to respond to a list of possible questions. Think of how you would answer in the most convincing way possible.
    • good impression  
      • basic greetings and courtesy
      • always maintain eye contact
    • voice control  
      • ensure what you say is audible and understandable
      • sit up straight and speak clearly
      • pronounce words clearly
      • avoid using abbreviated words, slang or technical jargon
      • do not talk too quickly
    • at the end, thank the examiner

Source: Secrets of a Top-Scoring Student (by Linus Tham)

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