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Yes, it’s that time of year again that a sizable slab of the population dreads. Exams. University exams are in full swing here, and the school ones are creeping up. So, here are my top two exam tips to help you on your way. You might think they are very, very obvious, but it is surprising just how many students fail to follow them – especially the second.

1. Turn up to the right place at the right time. That means, make sure you know when the exam is, and where it is. If in doubt of the room’s location, find it beforehand. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of not being able to find the room when you’ve got 90 seconds before you need to be there. However, arriving late is better than not arriving at all because you thought the exam was in the afternoon when it was in the morning or that it was tomorrow. Don’t laugh – It happens. The consequence could be that a student has to be at university for an extra semester to complete a paper again. It pays to double check, and triple check.

2. Read the question, and answer the question, the whole question, and nothing but the question. Don’t answer what you would like the question to have been, or what you think it should have been, or what you read it as because you skimmed over it too fast, answer what it actually is. Too often when marking I see ‘brain-dump’ answers. A student thinks – "Goody – a question on XYZ – I know lots about this topic" and proceeds to write down the entire contents of their brain regarding this area, whether it is relevant to the question or not. And too often, they neglect to cover what the question actually wanted them to do.. Anything you write that isn’t relevant to the question, you get no credit for. That’s nought, zero, zip, zilch, 0. All you are doing is wasting your time.

And, if I can add in a third, remember there is light at the end of the tunnel. Exams (at least on this intensity) don’t go on for ever.