Exam essentials: Inside an examiner’s mind

Examiners want to give you marks. Help them help you!

When you are sitting an exam, it's sometimes hard to know what an examiner will give you marks for - and what will lose you marks.

Here are our top three tips from examiners, to set you on the right track:

  • Read every question through carefully, look for command words and remember to answer the question that is being asked

  • Work through past papers alongside mark schemes beforehand so you know what your examiner is looking for

  • Manage your time. Know how long you have, how many questions there are, the types of questions they will be and how to allocate your time effectively

Examiners give their top tips on how to do your best in an exam

Let's recap

What an examiner is looking for

Your examiner will have a mark scheme and they will refer to it when they allocate marks.

They will look at the answer you have given and ask themselves:

  • Have you answered the question being asked?

  • Have you noticed the command words (e.g. explain, describe, contrast) and answered accordingly?

  • Have you written clearly? If they can't read your handwriting, they can't give you marks, even if what you have written is correct!

  • Have you checked your spelling, punctuation and grammar?

Dos and Don'ts

Follow our examiners’ dos and don'ts for exam success:

  • Do read the paper and each question through carefully

  • Do read through your answer and make sure it answers the question you are being asked

  • Do manage your time wisely in a exam

  • Don't just write everything you know on a subject. Look at how many marks the question is worth and answer appropriately

  • Don't leave a question blank, give it your best educated guess. You can't get marks for an answer you haven't written!

  • Don't just list all you know about a question. Note the command words and make sure you meet the standard required for that question in your response

Exam essentials: Using past papers
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Exam essentials: Understanding your exam paper
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Revision: tips for using past exam papers