Many students have cultured the habit of opening their question papers and writing as soon as the papers are given. This has been the cause of most students' failure. A common sentence in the cover page of almost all question papers reads- "Do not open this booklet until you are told to do so"!
When you are given the question papers and the answer sheets, do not start until you hear the bell ring or you are told to start by the supervisor. Some Invigilators may penalize you for that, so, be careful. While waiting for the bell to ring, it is advisable that you do the following: -
1 THE QUESTION PAPER Study the instructions on the cover page of the question paper and the answer sheet carefully before opening. Do not assume you know all the instruction .. Do not rely on what you read in past question papers. Read them.
After that, write your name and your examination number in the appropriate places on the answer sheet. It will be a costly mistake if you fail to do this. If your answer sheet is pre-printed, make sure the details correspond and are correctly printed. If you have to shade, shade with the required pencil. Remember to cross check twice to be sure you have not shipped the wrong option.
Note also the numbers of the questions to answer, the marks allocated to various questions, and the questions that carry more marks than others.
2 TIME ALLOCATION Note the time allocated to various sections so as to know the weight of each question and how long you are to work on each of the sections. Know the total time allocated for the examination and budget your time.
The tendency, most times, is for students to spend more time on the questions that they can answer well to the detriment of the others. Very often, they do not earn as much marks as they expected from these questions. If they even do, the total percentage of the question, compared to the overall mark, may be infinitesimal.
Allocate the right time to the right questions, whether or not you feel like it. Leave some minutes for the final review of your paper. Do not exceed the time limit for each question or each section.
3 THE QUESTION As soon as the starting bell rings, skim through the pages of the question paper, scanning the instructions on each section. If you notice some faults in the materials given to you, if some pages of your question paper are missing, or some parts are fayed and fault, lodge a complaint with the supervisors or invigilator and get better materials.
In an examination, only a fixed amount of time is allocated, so, do not waste it. Start with the questions you find easy. This builds up your courage. Again, they are time-saving questions. If you do not understand a question, leave it and try the next one. Go through the entire question paper; completing it as you are able, without using up too much time. Then go back and have another look at the time consuming questions or questions which puzzled you the first time.
Unconsciously, your brain would have done a bit of quiet review and you may now remember some or all of the answers you thought you had forgotten. The exercise you have done already, that is, going through a number of different questions, will stimulate your brain cells to greater efforts, and you will then be able to work out more difficult problems with greater success.
Treat the compulsory questions first before all others because they usually carry more marks. Attempt all questions that carry more marks, whether easy or not, before the ones that carry less. If the questions are optional, then they carry equal marks. Do the ones you understand better; the Examiner will not be impressed by your choice of the difficult one if you can not answer it adequately.
Do not spend more than the time allocated for each question or section. Write points in the examination hall; do not tell too many stories.
Answer the question in such a way that the lecturer will understand what you are saying. Convince him that you know, and that you are not just beating about the bush or guessing.
4 GENERAL TIPS Write legibly. Good, clear and legitimate handwriting is the Examiner's delight. It makes the Examiner's work easy. He may, unintentionally, jump to the wrong conclusions, being unable to read what you have written. You must therefore write clearly. Illegible handwriting may frustrate and irritate the Examiner.
Write fast in order to beat the time, but be careful. Do a neat peace of work without any rough cancellations. Cancellations should be neat, with just two long strokes across the page, where the error can not be erased, that is.