Rushing though the exam and not readying questions carefully has been the downfall of many students. Don’t let it happen to you!
When you get to a question, the first thing you should look at is the point allocation. If a question is worth ½ mark, they are only looking for a simple definition. But if it is worth 2 marks, you better be writing at least 4 strong points (justifying ½ mark award for each point). Also keeping an eye out for key action words will help you know how the marker will be evaluating your answers.
Key Action Words Used in Exam Questions:
Describe: Tell or depict in writing.
List: List items or a statement of facts. No explanation is required – extra marks are not given for an explanation.
Compare: Indicate the characteristics of two or more items and point out both their differences and similarities.
Contrast: Point out the differences between two or more items.
Define: State meaning of a term in a clear, concise way.
Explain: Give an explanation. It is not enough merely to define terms.
Identify: State items or give a statement of facts and give an example to illustrate.
Illustrate: Give an example which makes the idea or concept clear.
Justify: Give convincing reasons for your decisions or conclusions.
When you are writing out your answers, be sure to keep the following in mind:
-Write legibly – even if you have to print or write on every other line.
-If appropriate, refer to specific examples from readings and lectures to support and illustrate your points.
-Stay on the topic. The marker does not want to know everything you have learned – just everything needed to answer the particular question.
-Do not ramble. Overly wordy answers may make the reader question the knowledge of the writer.
-Reread your answer before moving on to another question since the thoughts are still in your mind.
-Reread the question. Make sure your answer satisfies the question.