Skills Centre

Preparing for you Exams


Before the exam
•  Know what to expect before you go into the examination room, you will have completed sample exam papers during your revision period or even sat an ABMA Education examination before, but it is helpful to know exactly what to expect before you enter the examination room. The main points for an ABMA Education exam are:

•  NEVER take any personal belongings into the exam room. Follow instructions from the Invigilation Team as to where you can leave these items.

•  Before you start the examination, ensure you complete ALL of the information in the boxes on the front cover if required. Most papers will now have your name and student number printed on the front page. Please check carefully that you have the correct paper and alert an Invigilator if you do not immediately.

• The examination will last 3 hours, you MUST attempt ALL questions.

•  The paper is marked out of 100. Carefully note the mark assigned for each part of each question and apportion the time you spend on each question appropriately.

•  The use of any reference material in the examination or any misconduct is strictly prohibited and will lead to immediate disqualification.

Other things to consider:

Find the right pen and practise writing:
This might sound stupid, but pens make a huge difference, find a pen you are comfortable with. Do a sample exam paper a few days before and time it really strictly, work out a way to write quickly and neatly so that you do not waste your first exam cracking this.

Divide your time up:
Have a plan of how long you are going to spend answering each question, this should have been part of your preparation before the examination.

When you are planning how to spend your time, make sure you assign some time at the beginning for planning, and at the end, to check and finish things off.

Be realistic:
Know before you go into the exam what sort of answers you can realistically write in the time you have got. If you have got 45 minutes for an essay question, does that mean you can fit in an introduction, three main points and a conclusion? Know the amount of detail you have got time for. Do not make the mistake of setting the scope of an answer too wide, and then not being able to finish it, something concise and complete will read much better than something broadly covered and unfinished.

In the exam:
Firstly, make sure you read every question carefully, do not skim-read, and do not dismiss an option before thinking about it for at least a few seconds. Similarly, once you have chosen a question: MAKE SURE YOU READ IT PROPERLY. A bit like doing too many or too few questions, misreading a question (especially a long answer one) can result in you missing out on marks that you deserve to get. No matter how brilliant, inspired, or interesting your answer is, if it answers the wrong question you will not be awarded any marks.
Make sure you read everything carefully.

Crucially, whatever your plan is, you must stick to it. If you know you have got twenty minutes each for three answers, DO NOT, whatever you do, let yourself spend thirty minutes on the first. It is always incredibly tempting to give yourself just another few minutes to try and squeeze one last point into your conclusion, but have the discipline to resist, because a rushed final answer will probably do more damage than an excellent first one can make up for. If you are really tempted to spend a little more time than you are allowed on a question, leave a blank page after your answer, and determine to come back to it at the end if you can.

Start with something you can answer:
Figure out which approach is best to keep you calm and focused in an exam.
Some people like to launch straight into the hard stuff: to get a question they have been dreading out of the way leaving lots of time at the end to do everything else at a more leisurely pace. Others like to start with the questions they feel they know most about. This will be down to you and how you have practiced with the past papers.

And if disaster strikes…
If you go totally blank and find you cannot answer something, realise you have answered the wrong number of questions, or discover you have misread the question, do not panic. Quickly write down what you have done in your script, so that the examiner can see what has happened, and then use the remaining time to write a new or alternative answer in bullet-points. Get in as much information as you can.

Do not leave early:
The temptation to leave an exam early (especially if it is your last one, or you have got another later on the same day) can be almost irresistible but sit and re-read what you have written, double-check all of your answers, check your spelling and rewrite any illegible words.

Twenty minutes hanging about outside the exam room, waiting for your friends to finish, or in the library preparing for the next one, are fairly inconsequential, but you can guarantee that if you leave early, you will immediately realise you have missed something important or done something wrong.

Believe in yourself.