Exam check list: do’s and don’ts

Another checklist put together for the CIE Sociology textbook. No great revelations, but probably helpful to know.


Practice answering questions under exam conditions. The more you practice the better you become.
Sleep on it Memory functions best when activity, such a revision, is followed by sleep; during sleep the brain consolidates learning and retention.
Read each question carefully Be clear about what each question is asking and how you plan to answer it.
Answer all parts of a question If the question has two parts then each part will carry half the available marks.
Relate your effort to the marks available Don’t waste time chasing one or two marks if it means you run out of time to answer higher mark questions.
Spend time planning your answer to extended questions This will structure your answer and help to ensure you use all the assessment criteria.
Review your answers When you’re writing at speed under pressure you will make mistakes; of spelling, punctuation and grammar as well as content. By taking a few minutes to read through your answers you can rectify these mistakes.
Double space your answers (leave a gap between each line in your answer booklet). When you review your answers in the final few minutes of the exam you will find mistakes; it’s easier and neater to correct mistakes or add missing words on the blank line above your answer.
Present your answers clearly and neatly


Buy new pens for the exam – old pens often leak and make your answers look messy. Only use black or blue ink. Punctuate properly and avoid abbreviations. Check your spelling and grammar when you review your answers.


Leave your revision to the last few days or weeks before the exam. While all revision is likely to be useful it’s better to revise a little over a long period than a lot over a short space of time.
Revise all night before an exam.


Sleep is crucial to memory retention and you won’t recall much of what you covered the night before. You will also be tired and this makes recall more difficult.
Revise on the morning before an exam. Last-minute revision isn’t very productive; you’re also less likely to retain learning that’s not consolidated by sleep. If you don’t know it by the morning of the exam then a last ditch effort is probably not going to change your performance.
Spend too long on small-mark questions.


If you spend too long chasing a small number of marks on the non-extended questions you risk running out of time to answer them, potentially losing more marks than you gained.
Just choose the first question you read. When there’s a choice of question, read them all very carefully to understand what they require.
Answer a question that hasn’t been set. Make sure you constantly refer your answer back to the question on the exam paper.
Use a list of bullet points. Listing the points you would have written about if you hadn’t run out of time just demonstrates poor time management and organisation. You may get one or two marks for knowledge but bullet points will get you nothing in terms of the other assessment criteria.


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