Studying hard for their exams is not the only thing your teen needs to do in order to be well prepared.
They also need to dedicate time to planning how they’re going to answer their exam questions.
Because there’s actually a right and a wrong way to tackle exam questions.
And this is most apparent with short answer questions (those requiring one or two lines maximum), and long answer questions (those requiring possibly a paragraph or two).
The best exam answers are the simplest ones
- Marking schedules are short and succinct. The answer is the answer, and no amount of aimless fluff is going to get you extra marks!
- When examiners are bombarded with poorly structured and hard to follow answers, they can’t possibly award the student full marks.
- From experience, we know that long-winded answers are a sign the student doesn’t understand what they’re writing about as well as they need to. Examiners know this too.
They might not mark a student down on that question because of it – but it may cast a shadow over the rest of the paper.
- Examiner often have hundreds (if not thousands!) of exam papers to mark. Lengthy exam answers will simply slow down this process without any real gain for your teen. You don’t want an examiner to dislike marking your paper!
- Long answers take more time to write! This means your teen has less time for other questions.
Unfortunately fixing this can be harder than it sounds!
It’s actually quite difficult to not babble on when answering exam questions. Everyone waffles on and waivers from the main point when they’re under pressure and not entirely sure of their answer.
When we read over practice exams our students have done, some answers can be extremely convoluted. Answers longer than a few sentences tend to jump all over the show making it very difficult to follow what they’re saying.
Giving a concise and well-structured answer to an exam question is a great skill.
Which is why we strongly recommend your teen practices the art of succinct answers while they’re studying for their exams.
How should your teen ensure they get the best marks?
1. Practice answering only the question being asked.
2. If a question has more than one part to it, your teen needs to answer each part in the order they’re asked.
Your teen’s answers need to have blatantly obvious structure.
We recommend starting on a new line every time your teen is answering a new part of the question. This will show the examiner they know exactly what part of the question they’re answering!
3. Practice giving the simplest answers they can.
If it’s possible for your teen to explain something in one sentence, do it.
No fancy words.
No 50-word sentences.
Just short and snappy answers.
The examiner just wants to see your teen understands what’s being asked.
Hopefully your teen can get their hands on some past exams and/or work books with exam-style questions. They should then practice giving full but simple and concise answers.
It would probably be really useful if you have a look at some of their answers and see if they’re writing simply or not. Even if you don’t understand the content of what they’re writing about, you’ll definitely be able to tell if their writing is concise and well-structured or not!
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