Examination Strategy A Way to Achieve Better Grade and Success
We live in an age of cut-throat competition and in this era of high competition, building a strong and a secure future generally requires for the students to work very hard and secure the best possible grades they can, whether it is in high school or at the university level. It is a known fact or in other words, a mindset that the examiner/evaluator checks and awards the students marks by double-checking a drafted sheet where the answers have already been marked/elaborated along with the marking scheme explained thoroughly (Crosling and et.al., 2008). This has encouraged students in this era to indulge in the practice of rote learning where they memorize the exact answers to questions given to them by instructors so that full marks are awarded. Most of these students never question the validity of this information provided to them nor do they search for it in libraries and/or the internet but they simply accept it and memorize it without going beyond what is told and followed. When indulged in a discussion, these students often rely on the basic information that's been fed to them and when asked to take a different approach in respect to the topic, they usually end up in either confusion or in a loss of words (Crosling and et.al., 2008). The end result is inevitable; unstructured, improper and irrelevant answers.
It is truly said that students are the backbone and real wealth of a society and the advancement of a society is gauged by its standard of education. The society and its educational system has the utmost responsibility to provide such an infrastructure that it helps the student to bring out their genius and make them capable of taking the responsibility of the future world. The exam structure plays one of the most pivotal role to achieve these objectives(Walfish and Hess, 2001). As discussed earlier the shortfalls of the prevailing exam systems are being changed entirely and as new techniques are being evolved now and then, the concept of structured answers was brought in the arena of teaching, with the final goal to evolve the student into a more knowledgeable being, rather than just a literate individual. The goal of introducing structured answers was to encourage the students to think beyond just text books assigned to them. It encourages students to identify the issue, investigate the best possible but multiple approaches to finding the solutions, and in the end, helping to expand their domain of knowledge (Huat and Kerry, 2008). This inevitably makes them sharper and helps them tackle problems rather easily. The idea is to make the students knowledgeable and capable of solving practical problems by applying the knowledge provided to them by their educational system. To develop this skill, most of the premier organizations, be it educational or professional, have gone through a sea-change in their assessment procedure and now more emphasis is being laid on the case-study based education system, where the problems are collected from real world situations and the students are encouraged to give a solution to those problems, by applying their knowledge and skills in their respective domains. The main aim is to increase the decision making ability of the students to tackle a real life problem to be faced by them when the time comes (Cottrell, 1999).
Disciplines are numerous and each one claims uniqueness. But, be it science, commerce or arts, examination in every discipline seeks to find answers to some problems and the way of answering the questions to secure a good marks are no different.
When approaching to structure one's answers, the first thing the students need to do is to analyze the questions. It is ideal for the student to read through the questions and understand them because nothing is awarded for irrelevant answers. The analysis process helps the student to break the question down into its component parts and, in some instances, relating those parts to other parts or systems within the whole (Cottrell, 1999). Identifying the component parts in an outline, and the relationship between the parts and thereafter summarizing how the component parts make up the whole the student will have a better idea of what his/her professor expects as the answer to the question. The student should undertake a personal exam SWOT analysis – matching own strengths and weaknesses to the opportunities and threats offered by the exam paper (Kimberley and Crosling, 2012).
Where you have a choice, you should identify those question requirements (and their specific parts) which offer you the best opportunity to reflect your knowledge and thereby to acquire maximum possible marks. There will always be plenty of easy marks on every exam paper, so it is vitally important that you focus on accumulating these easy marks and don’t allow yourself to become bogged-down in the difficult parts of the paper. Search for questions that test your favorite syllabus areas, and questions that will allow you to show your strengths (Kimberley and Crosling, 2012).
Highlighting of keywords in the questions is an effective way to fully understand the question. Secondly, starting with the questions the student is most comfortable with is an effective way for this not only saves time but eases the way for him because at times, you start remembering things halfway across a question and this helps with the difficult questions. Moreover, questions that require less content shall be answered in accordance with the question (Beasley and Pearson, 1999). It is quite evident that questions that carry less marks require less content and the student shall write and construct short answers for short questions and vice versa. If in case a student writes too less, he may be awarded fewer marks though too much isn't good either for extra information is regarded as irrelevant and this results in the wastage of valuable time. Also, to write high-quality answers, one should practice last 10 years of sample question papers repeatedly until he/she gets a grip on the questions. Practice of writing answers really helps and this way, one becomes rather habitual of completing his/her question paper on time so, practicing of question papers beforehand is a good trick (Gabriel, 2008).
The most hard-working, well-prepared students sometimes fail to have a good exam if they don’t manage their time properly in the exam hall. It is difficult to pass without having a clear timing strategy when you are sitting in the exam hall. Managing your time effectively in the exam is critical to success. It should be kept in mind that a test means you need to be able to submit it before the time allotted is finished and therefore the best practice is to try and divide the hours equally and not to waste too much time on one question (Barrett and Moore, 2011). In addition, like previously stated, save time and do not elaborate too much on the questions that award less and utilize this saved time on the lengthier questions.
Short essay answers require one to make a plan and think about the order of the arguments one shall include. A great tip is to make it one argument per paragraph and always show how that what is presented by is relevant to the question(John and Jewler, 1998). If the student is able to reference by name the theorists relevant to the discussed topic is all the better, it is regarded as relevant and most often impresses the examiner and guarantees an extra mark or two. The basic structure for a good short-essay answer needs to include: a short introduction, clear sections clearly pointing out in a concise manner the information one wants to present (each presenting one new idea), followed by a conclusion. The conclusion should always summarize or list all the arguments that have been listed in the answer. If the student manages to present a clear, structured answer followed by good arguments, indicating clearly what he wants to write/portray and the point that he wants to make, the odds of getting the credit are increased even if one does not get to finish the whole paper(Barrett and Moore, 2011). It is best if the student keeps in check the word limit if there is one and if the answer is relevant to the question so the student not only saves time but eliminates extra information and possible mistakes to yield better results.
While answering cause and effect questions, if asked, sketch the relationship between the parts as a way of helping you write your answer without forgetting a component. As you write your essay, take advantage of transitional phrases which will help you make the links between the cause and effect(s) you are analyzing.
Process questions are designed to test the depth of your knowledge about a subject and your ability to analyze how the various components (i.e. processes) of a system contributed to create the whole. As such, process questions are almost always chronological or linear and involve multiple, sequential steps. If you are asked about a complex process, jot down the steps or draw a schematic of the process before you begin to write. This will help you to not forget a critical step in your answer (Richard, 2001). As you write your essay, take advantage of transitional phrases which will help you make the links between the steps of the process you are analyzing.
The supported opinion essay is the most demanding essay question your professor will ask. Not only do you have to know the material, you have to have analyzed it and taken an opinion about the material that you can support with facts and figures (i.e. documented). While answering such question, start your answer by writing a clearly worded statement of your opinion or interpretation. Defend your statement with all of the data, examples, facts, and research that you have studied which led you to take the position you have taken (Walfish and Hess, 2001).
In a professional examination marks are awarded for the overall quality of answers, and for using or adopting effective professional communication skills as required by the examiner. These are determined by a number of factors, as decided by the relevant examiner, like the strength and persuasiveness of arguments made, the effective use of evidence, presenting logical conclusions and recommendations where appropriate.
A few other things that make the answer more presentable and impresses the examiner which in turn, helps maximize one's grades is the structure and manner the answer is written and if there is a constant flow of the information written (Cottrell, 1999). Also, when an answer portrays and reflects that the student who has written it has fully understood the subject matter, it impresses the examiner and extra marks can be scored due to this. One may apply this by using coherent paragraphs (no note-form). Moreover, no matter which country one is from whether it be Canada, America, Holland, United Kingdom, Australia etc. one needs to have his/her questions set out and written in a professional manner using correct grammar and punctuation and the portrayal of the concepts shall be very clear and up to the standard for these are higher level exams and these require more than just one's cramming abilities to write an exam (Gabriel, 2008). One shall also divide the answers in to different paragraphs so that it is easier for the examiner to check the exam, to better understand the answer and to easily differentiate two parts of a single answer. Neat, presentable and eligible writing is also a must because if the examiner can't understand as to exactly what you have written, it is pure wastage of time and effort for the examiner is allowed to award a zero in case he/she cannot or is unable to understand the presented answer (Gabriel, 2008).
In conclusion as for the structured answers, they not only help in fostering a sense of curiosity in students to search beyond the obvious and stated, but it also inculcates actual knowledge in their minds rather than them being just mirror images of views and beliefs spelled out by the instructors (Marcia and Gibson, 1997). This in turn, also helps them better understand what accounting actually is and simple logic behind the methods and means of this subject helps the students studying it apply it in the future. That in turn, helps the student move up the corporate ladder rather easily due to the understanding of the subject matter. This approach also helps the evaluators to understand the overall development of the students and helps them differentiate between those who actually understand the subject and those who practice rote learning. This was often unnoticed in the past for this approach was not in existence and this way, every student, whether capable or not could pass the examination had it been just an exercise of spelling out only memorized theories. However, the development of the exam strategy is a task that should be performed not only by the students, but before that by the examiners and the system responsible to educate the students(Beasley and Pearson, 1999). At the outset, the education system will have to remember the true purpose of the examination - it’s not a way to judge the ability of the students and to differentiate between them by a grading system, but it’s the way to develop the ability of the students by allowing them to be exposed to some problems, in order to increase their decision making capability as well as the capability of applying the knowledge gathered from the books and the lectures of their teachers. An examination system, in essence, is an examination of the education system itself so as to judge its effectiveness and efficiency to bring out the ability and talent hidden within the students. As the all time great scientist Albert Einstein said that - everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it’s stupid. True, the examination process should be an opportunity for the students to prove their mettle, not to make them feel, that they are stupid (Kimberley and Crosling, 2012).
A final point, not really referred to in the examiner’s article, but very important, is for every student to think WIIIFM (what is in it for me?). You must be able to visualize a payoff. Think of the Olympic gold medalist who had pictured himself on the podium three years before the actual race. Having a clear tangible objective will help create a strong desire for success. To achieve this objective you are going to pass the exam by communicating clearly with the marker and no opportunity for marks is going to be missed (Beasley and Pearson, 1999). The opportunity of securing a high grade remains hidden in the questions and the assignments; the only thing a well prepared student has to do is to follow a brilliant exam strategy with a clear focus to reach the desired destination – a brilliant score and an outstanding grade (Crosling and et.al., 2008).
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