ED209: exam thoughts

Now that it’s less than three weeks to go before the exam ’tis time to start some basic preparations for it.

The seen question is an interesting one in that you can obviously do a lot more preparation for it in advance. One key thing is to try writing out your answer and see how long it takes. You should be aiming for about an hour on the basis that in the exam the nerves will increase your writing speed a little. My guess at the moment is that this means around 700 words for me but I’ve not tried it out yet: all I know for sure is that I can write around 1000 words in Spanish in about two hours.

Incidently, on the writing business, don’t forget that getting on for three hours is a LOT of writing. I’m sure that most people don’t write that much at a stretch these days and the most I’ve written recently is around 2 hours. That being the case, I was thinking of what kind of pen to run with to ease things. Both fountain pens and roller balls are excellent for easing the writers cramp that kicks in with such long exams but they also have the problem that the writing smudges and can go through the page too. Ballpoint is the “choice” of most people but really only because they’ve not thought about it. However, there is the option of gell pens which offer the ease of writing of the fountain/roller pens combined with the convenience of the ballpoints. You’ll be wanting to bring along two pens (three if you’re really paranoid).

Are you going to write on every other line? That’s handy as it lets you add in the odd sentence later if needbe. Leave a page between questions too.

Liquid paper or roll-on paper for corrections? The liquid stuff is a nuisance in exams. Much better to get one of those little paper dispensers. Two actually as they’ve been know to go wonky mid-exam.

Have you printed out the exam allocation page yet? You’re supposed to bring that with you but at minimum do check exactly where it is and, if you can, it’s always handy to do a trial run at the same time of day as you’ll actually be going. I’ve been to the place mine’s at last year and know that a) there’s a LOT of traffic that time of day and b) there’s not many parking spaces.

Don’t forget to bring photo ID with you. They like passports, driving licenses or the student card. Has anyone found a pen that works on the signature strip on the student card?

Munchies, drinkies? I’m a wine gum person in exams and sometimes get through a surprisingly amount of them in the course of planning the answers (or, sometimes, in mid-panic when I can’t find any questions that I like!). A bottle of Lucozade generally gets me through an exam (tried two once and it got me seriously hyper!).

What about your exam bag(s)? If you’re planning on bringing your notes and books with you you’ll need a separate bag for them as you can’t have such things near you in the exam (you can leave them at the back of the exam hall). I generally take a little bag for the pens, Lucozade, wine gums, correction paper, ID, etc.

What question are you going to answer first? It doesn’t matter which order you answer the questions (but make sure you indicate which one you’re answering!). The seen question is the last one on the paper but going by our recent tutorial most people will be answering this first and won’t even look at the other questions ’til it’s out of the way. I’m definitely going to be looking at the other questions first and probably making an initial selection as to which I’ll answer before starting on anything. I’ll decide which order to answer the questions on the day.

Apparently there are marks to be had for essay plans so aside from their usefulness it’s worth doing these in the answer booklet itself rather than scribbling them out on the answer paper. Don’t forget to put a line through them because then the examiner won’t be able to allow any marks for them. Allow 5 to 10 minutes per question for these which, of course, means you’ve only 50 minutes or so to write out the answer itself.

Last, but not least, remember that once you actually sit down in the exam hall you’re way ahead of the game. By this point something like 40% of those that started ED209 have dropped out and getting on for 90% of those who do the exam will pass it. Dropout rates for the L3 courses are more like 20% which implies that they are easier going ie you’re over the hump if you’re shooting for the psychology degree.

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2 Responses to “ED209: exam thoughts”

  • Tim says:

    You’ve beaten me to it! Great post. Just one quibble (and I’m not sure if it’s a typo) – our tutor advised us NOT to cross out any essay plans we might write on the basis that if it was crossed out it couldn’t be credited.

    Good luck with the exam,

    Tim.

  • Arnold says:

    Seeing as I was dead keen and went to the tutorials for two separate tutors this year I find myself with two different answers to that. My own tutor said to cross it out, the other said not to but that it wouldn’t matter either way. Presumably the best approach is to leave it uncrossed but with a suitable heading.

    Someone asked at the tutorial what happens if you run out of time: can you refer to the essay plan and the answer is “yes”. The thing to do is to write a note referring back to it saying something along the lines “ran out of time: see essay plan for additional points”. I imagine that’s a brilliant approach if your essay plan is pretty good but not so good if it isn’t which in turn implies that it’s worth the extra time to do a better than average essay plan.

    What would be really nice is if we got credit for blogging on all this… I think you’d be sitting with a distinction already!

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