Before the day of the exam

  • Time: Make sure you know when and where the exam is going to be held.
  • Location: If you are unfamiliar with the exam room, find the location beforehand so you know exactly where to go.  Think about where you will be most comfortable sitting in the space provided.
  • Transport: If you are driving or taking public transport to campus for the exam, check where there is parking or where public transport stops are located beforehand so that you won’t be late.  Don’t leave travel time too close to the start time for the exam: travel may actually take longer than you expect.
  • Length: Check how long the examination will be (most exams are three hours long, but there may be variations according to subject area).

In the exam room

  • Your ID card must be displayed on your desk throughout the exam.
    Take a pen to the exam and at least one spare.
  • An official university answer booklet will be provided for you to write your answers in.
  • Extra sheets of paper will be provided on request. You will need to raise your hand during the exam and an invigilator will bring extra paper to you. Use the extra paper to make rough notes and/or essay plans; or if you run out of pages in your answer booklet.
  • Unless your lecturer advises you otherwise, you may not bring any other materials (dictionaries, books or electronic equipment) into an exam.

Exam supervision

  • Your lecturer or tutor will not be present in the exam.
  • Invigilators of the exam will be the supervisors. Their role is to ensure that the examination takes place under the rules specified by the university. They will ensure there is no talking or swapping of information and are alert for any sign students are cheating.
  • If you are confused about a question or think there is an error in it raise your hand and ask a supervisor to telephone the lecturer to clarify the question.
  • If you are uncomfortable for any reason raise your hand and a supervisor will assist you.

Beginning the exam

  • Reading time is allowed at the beginning of the exam. For the first 15 minutes you must not write. During that time read the paper carefully - read the instructions for what they actually say, not what you expect them to say.
  • Choose the questions you will answer, and the order in which you will do them.
  • Prioritise your exam time. Work out how much time to allocate for each question, depending on the type of question involved. For instance, an essay answer will require more time to plan and write than a section of multi-choice questions. A common approach is to get the multi-choice/short answers out of the way as soon as possible to allow plenty of time for more complicated and in-depth questions such as essays.
  • Exam questions may all be in one format or a combination from the following:
    • Essay answers – generally a number of pages (i.e. two to four pages),
    • Long answer – generally one or two paragraphs,
    • Short answer – generally a few words or a sentence,
    • Multi-choice – select the most appropriate answer from a range
  • If you haven’t finished your answer in that time: Jot down the rest of your ideas in note form and move to the next question. Return to the question later if you have time. It’s better to try and answer all of the questions to some extent, rather than answer only some questions in detail at the expense of not answering others.

Analysing the questions

  • Read the question carefully. You cannot expect to receive high marks if you do not answer the question.
  • Underline or highlight the content words in the question that indicate the topic. You will not receive high marks if your answer is off the topic.
  • Underline or highlight the instruction verbs (eg identify, describe, compare and contrast and/or evaluate). If you ‘compare and contrast’ the topic when the question asked you to ‘describe’ it you cannot expect to receive high marks.

Answering the questions

  • Allow yourself time to think before you begin writing.  For every 30 minutes of writing allow 5–7 minutes to plan your answers and in that time:
  • Jot down relevant points. Organise them into a logical order by numbering.
  • Ensure each paragraph makes one main point: Begin the paragraph with a sentence containing the main point. Support the point with examples, explanations and evidence.

Presenting your answers

  • Make sure your writing is readable. If you always use a computer for your assignments you may need to practise writing answers to an old exam paper in pen. Writing on every second line in the examination booklet helps make your work clearer for the marker to read.
  • Organise your answers clearly and specifically to make it easier for the marker to follow your thoughts. Link sentences and paragraphs in logical order.  Don’t worry too much about punctuation or grammar as you write. Check these at the end if there is time.
  • If you run out of time write the key points in note form so the examiner can see how you planned to finish.

Special consideration

  • If you miss an exam for any reason, or feel unwell during the exam and think your performance may be impaired, you need to go immediately to a Medical Centre or doctor.
  • Within 24 hours you must take a written report from the medical practitioner to the Assessment Office in the Student Centre to discuss applying for special consideration.
  • Special consideration for impaired performance or missed examination