The ‘Smash Your Studies’ Series. #1: English
You’ve done your revision; you know your stuff; but how are you going to recall what made Shakespeare famous when you need. Don’t panic, here are five top tips to get your brain back into the ball-game:
Relax and read the paper
This may sound like odd advice when the clock seems to be racing faster than Lewis Hamilton - it really does pay to take a few moments to re-read the question again thoroughly. Check to see if you have to do all the questions or if you can choose a certain number. Then decide the questions you think you can answer best and do them first. That way, if you run out of time, you'll gain the most marks possible.
No headless chicken ever bagged an A grade, so let that be a lesson to you. Plan every answer. Quickly, jot down the main points you want to include and also decide where you need to use quotations. You should have an idea of the length of answer that is expected before you go into the exam, especially with essays but if you're given a certain space for your answer plan around that. And remember, like a good story, every good answer has a strong beginning and an end - so take extra care with your intros and conclusions.
All your life, parents and teachers have told you not to argue, but now’s the time to forget all that sensible advice. Good answers in an English exam are firmly based on reasoned argument. Every point you make should have evidence to back it up. That way, even if the marker disagrees with your assumptions, they’ll be able to see how you got there.
Don’t wander off
Once you've decided how to answer the question, don't allow yourself to get side-tracked. Always stick to the point you’re trying to make. You don't get any marks for being entertaining (although try not to be so dull that the marker drifts off when they’re reading your paper). You only get marks for answering the question.
Don’t waste a second
When you finish, you’ve still got work to do. You might be drained but there are still plenty of marks to work for. Read the questions again. Make sure you've answered them correctly and then check for spelling and grammar. What could be worse than silly “speling misteaks” in an English exam?