Tips when sitting your exam

exam 2

If you’re after some basic tips for when you are sitting your exam paper…here they are!

Use reading time effectively


First step is to actually get there for reading time, not when the exam actually starts!

For example – the exam timetable says your exams starts at 9.15am with 15 minutes reading time. What that means is that, at 9am you start to read your exam paper! And at 9.15am, you pick up your pen and you start the paper.

Of course – read the cover sheet first!

My strategy during reading time is to go straight to the essay/short answer section and read those questions BEFORE the multiple choice section.

So after checking out the essay questions, I go back to the start of the paper and quickly skim through the rest of it to mentally prepare myself for what’s about to come.

Then I would use the rest of reading time to plan my response for the essays.

Why do I do this?

I feel like I can use my 15 minutes more productively by brainstorming and planing my essay in my head than just reading the multiple choice questions.

Don’t know the answer? Make an educated guess


If you have absolutely no idea what the answer is, don’t randomly pick an answer – make an educated guess!

If you HAD to pick an answer, which one would it be? Which answer makes the most sense?

And don’t leave an answer blank! If don’t know the answer to a short answer or essay – just write something down! Usually I would look through the multiple choice for any relevant info and just reword it, and put it as my response.

Desperate times call for desperate measures…

Check all sides of your exam paper


I am telling you, I nearly the missed the last page of my biology exam last year. CHECK ALL SIDES!

Plan your time well during the exam


Usually the same rules apply for exams…1 mark = 1 minute. So let’s say if you have a short answer question worth 4 marks, spend 4 minutes on the answer.

And if you are stuck on an answer, move on, and come back to it later!

One thing I do if I were to skip a question, I would keep a tally of the question numbers I need to come back to, on the front/back of the exam paper so I know what questions I need to re-visit when I have time.

But I mean, in some exams they give you more than enough time to complete the paper. Example being first year psychology (PSYC10003/4). Everyone started leaving about an hour in! (It’s a 3 hour exam, all multiple choice questions). From memory, Simon – the subject coordinator said that he deliberately set the exam time to 3 hours (much longer than it needed to be) to give international students who may have difficulty with english, more time to work on the paper (what a good guy!)

Got extra time? Check your answers

exam 5

If you finish early, do go through your paper and double check your answers.

While filling out the multiple choice sheet for an exam last year, I accidentally missed a line! Luckily I picked this up when I was proof reading, and fixed up my answers.

Most importantly – Read the instruction!


Read the cover sheet and your questions carefully!

Sometimes you will have separate writing books, and the instructions will tell you which ones to use for which questions etc. And if it helps you, highlight the key parts of the question so you don’t forget.

Although it’s such a basic and important thing to do – I tend to read the questions too fast, and miss out on the important bits of info. So I always have to remind myself to slow down and read the question slowly (as painful as it is)!

Hope you are all doing OK with exam prep!

Daph :)

3 thoughts on “Tips when sitting your exam

    1. Hey Alex! I would say get there about 30 mins before reading time. Better early than late! And it doesn’t take that long to get everyone in. About 5 minutes, even less. Everyone’s usually quite keen to get in because it’s really cold outside haha.

      Best of luck with your exam tomorrow! And I’m glad you like my blog :)


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