The River Thames outside DLD College London

Exam Tips – The Exam

28th May 14

DLD College London A Level and GCSE Exam Tips  

Here we go. It’s Exam Time. You’re sat in the exam hall, this is the moment everything has been leading up to. No doubt you will be nervous. But there’s no need to panic, you’ve worked hard all year and done all of your revision, and with these handy DLD College London exam tips at your disposal you are bound to succeed.

1. Stay calm 

While you’re sat at your desk waiting for the exam to begin, get ready. Don’t spend time looking around at everyone else, ready yourself, get everything you need set up, and get comfortable. You’ve done the work, you know what you need to know, now is your time to shine. Don’t panic. If you are allowed to, take a bottle of water in with you. Sip it slowly throughout the exam. Don’t guzzle it. You want to remain hydrated and sharp, not have to go to the toilet every ten minutes. 

2. Read the paper 

Not just the exam questions, but the exam instructions. Take five or ten minutes to read through the entire paper carefully. In this time work out which questions you are going to answer and plan your exam time. This will help you feel in more control. And the more in control you feel, the less likely you are to make mistakes. Don’t be tempted to just dive in and answer a question because you think it’s the subject you know the most about, it might be a really difficult question. You might find an easier question on a subject you felt less confident with. If you don’t understand a question, read it again, and if you still don’t understand it, move on and come back to it. 

3. Plan your time 

Make sure you set aside enough time to answer all the questions you need to. If there are questions which are worth more marks than others, give them more time than others. You might like to think about doing them first. 

4. Keywords 

Underline keywords in the question. Words like “Discuss”, “Analyse” and “Evaluate” are keywords.  Use them to help you remained focus and actually answer what the question is asking rather than answer the question you think you are being asked. 

5. Plan your answers 

If you are writing an essay, knock up a small essay plan. Do your thinking at the start of the question. This is the time to brainstorm and get everything you know about the question down on paper. Then plan an introduction to tell your examiner how you are going to answer their question. Then plan four or five paragraphs each discussing a single factor of your argument noting down what points you want to make. Finally summarise your points and formulate your conclusion. It’s not uncommon for students to take up to ten minutes planning an essay in an exam. 

6. Do the easiest questions first 

There is nothing wrong with doing the questions you feel most comfortable with first. Getting something down on paper, and feeling good about what you’ve written will do wonders for your confidence. Don’t spend ages on a question you are not sure on, you do not have time for that. Even though some A Level and GCSE exams are up to three hours long, that time will fly by and you won’t get it back. Move on and come back to any harder questions later. You’ll be surprised how often coming back to a question a little later and with a little more confidence can make the answer flow a lot easier. 

7. Show your working 

If your subject requires it – for example Maths or Physics – always show your working. It’s possible to get the answer wrong but still get marks for your working out. If you get the answer wrong, and don’t show any working, you’re not going to get any credit. 

8. Remain focused on yourself 

Don’t look around and check out how your friends are doing. Not only is this distracting you and taking your focus away from the exam, it might look like you’re trying to cheat. 

9. If you finish early 

Never leave an exam before it is over. The only time you should ever leave an exam early is if you are absolutely sure you have scored 100% in that exam. And that’s never – no offence – going to happen. It might be tempting to just get up and walk out. But don’t. Read over and check your answers. There might be something you have forgotten to add, or you may find a way of improving an existing answer. 

10. If you are running out of time 

Don’t panic. Try and get something down on paper. You might not have time to write full sentences or show full working. But getting something down is better than nothing, and you never know, that little bit extra you squeezed out might be the difference between an A* and an A or even a pass or a fail. 

Good luck!